A Conversation for Medication for Depression

Drug efficacy

Post 1


Hello there chaps...

I read somewhere (may have been in a Lewis Wolpert book) that not much is known about the action of antidepressant drugs on the brain. For example, it is not known why inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin makes you feel happy.

What is very interesting in this context is the way this data is bourne out in the clinical trials of antidepressant medication. Apparently, across the trials of all antidepressants, the results are very similar. Approximarely 40% of the sample who take a placebo report amelioration of the depression, as opposed to 60% of the sample who get the actual antidepressant.

In cases where the patient is treated with a range of drugs, to see if they respond to one of them, aproximately 80% of the sample test population report a mood improvement.

Now, these numbers might not sound very good (e.g., prozac is only 20% more likely to make you feel better than a sugarlump). But, in real money, it also means you are twice as likely to respond well if you try out a range of antidepressants, as opposed to just trying one. This tends to be the way that they are prescribed (in the UK at least); if one antidepressant doesn't work, try another. This approach might seem like the docs are groping around in the dark, but given the extent of knowledge about how antidepressants affect the brain, it's one of the better ways forward.

So, in practical terms, this means if a doctor has just tried you on drug A, and it's made you feel like hell, then if you try again with drug B, C D as necessary, your chance of not responding is cut in half. Worth bearing in mind.

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Drug efficacy

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