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Antidepressant Studies: Taking a Realistic Look

By HERWriter
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Dr. Tieraona Low Dog's career in natural medicine has already spanned more than twenty-five years and is still rising. President Clinton appointed Dr. Low Dog in 2000 to serve on the White House Commission of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Dr. Low Dog served a three year term on the Advisory Council for the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She has been involved in national health policy for over a decade.

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a Canadian medical journal and the other in the New England Journal of Medicine that looked at all of the published and unpublished studies, and in the New England Journal, in their review there were 74 FDA studies that had been conducted on antidepressants and when you looked at the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paroxetine in moderate to severely depressed patients and what they found was when you looked at the published and the unpublished studies, there was actually no more effectiveness than placebo than paroxetine.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.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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