Researchers from the Nordic Cochrane Centre have expressed alarm at research into the effectiveness of antidepressant medication, citing such degrees of widespread bias and systematic distortion that we can’t be certain they work.
The conclusions come from an analysis conducted at the Nordic Cochrane Centre and were first reported by Videnskab.dk.
We are not saying (anti-depression medication) doesn’t work. But the studies that have been done are often of poor quality and it’s therefore difficult to say anything about the effect of antidepressants,” said Asger Sand Paludan-Müller, a PhD student and one of the co-authors of the analysis.
Although previous studies have found antidepressants to be beneficial in treatment of depression, the effect may be too small to be felt by the person taking the medication, research has found. In their recent meta analysis, the Danish researchers highlight pervasive positive selection bias, inadequate reporting of side effects as well as systematic distortion of results in up to 79 percent of the studies analyzed.
The Danish researchers found that there may be some doubt as to whether the small effect exists at all.
“We try to have a system in Denmark in which the treatment options we use are evidence-based in some way.
“Our argument here is that the uncertainty is so great that we think we should be saying that we don’t actually know for sure,” Paludan-Müller said.
The researcher recommended that doctors discuss that uncertainty with patients before prescribing antidepressants.
More than 400,000 people in Denmark took at least one type of antidepressant in 2017, according to figures from the Danish Health Data Authority (Sundhedsdatastyrelsen).
Increased depression among teens
A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that the teens who spend too much time on social media or watching television become notably more depressed.
The six-year study tracked over 3,800 students in Montreal, asking them to track (in class) both how much time per day they had spend watching TV, browsing social media and playing video games. As part of the same survey, they were asked to measure their level of depressive symptoms, such as loneliness and sadness.
An increase of as little as one hour of social media interaction from normal levels would result in a measurable increase in depression, the study found.