Dr. Low Dog introduces herself and discusses the soundness of antidepressant studies.
Dr. Low Dog:
I am Tieraona Low Dog. I am a medical doctor and I am the Director of the Fellowship in Integrated Medicine here at the program within Integrative Medicine at University of Arizona. I am also the Chair of the United States Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplements and Expert Committee.
Well, you know the studies on antidepressants have really kind of been a mixed bag. This year and in 2008, January 2008, there were two studies that were published – one in a Canadian medical journal and the other in the New England Journal of Medicine that looked at all of the published and unpublished studies, and in the New England Journal, in their review there were 74 FDA studies that had been conducted on antidepressants and when you looked at the published trials, it made it look as if 94% of all the studies that were done showed they were better than placebo.
However, when you added in the studies that were not published, only 51% of the studies showed that they were better than placebo. In the review that was done by the Canadian Medical Association, they looked only at paroxetine in moderate to severely depressed patients and what they found was when you looked at the published and the unpublished studies, there was actually no more effectiveness than placebo than paroxetine.
Now, I am not saying that antidepressants don’t work, what I am saying is that there may be some real publication bias that we are seeing where pharmaceutical companies are primarily publishing the positive results and not publishing the negative ones, and that really distorts then how effective these may be. They may be less effective than what we have thought before, especially in particular populations, and that’s concerning.
So, there’s been a lot of attention on this lately and so I would say that right now, yes, antidepressants are effective for some patients. They may not be overall as effective as we have led to believe, been led to believe by the published studies.
About Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.:
Dr. Tieraona Low Dog’s extensive career in studying natural medicine began more than twenty-five years ago. She studied midwifery, massage therapy, and was a highly respected herbalist, serving as President of the American Herbalist Guild and running a teaching clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico before receive her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. She currently serves as the Director of the Fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.