home
RSS
Are antidepressants glorified placebos?
June 16th, 2011
04:41 PM ET

Are antidepressants glorified placebos?

Which came first, the mental illness or the drug? While in other areas of medicine this is a no-brainer (no pun intended), some argue that certain psychiatric conditions are created and classified because of the effects particular drugs have on the body, and not the other way around.

Three new books, reviewed in Dr. Marcia Angell's article "The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?" in The New York Review of Books, raise startling possibilities about the truth behind the explosion of prescriptions of pharmaceutical treatments for mental illness. (Dr. Angell, by the way, was the first woman to ever be editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine).

All of the authors of the new books agree on two thought-provoking viewpoints:

1. Our understanding of categories of mental illness and their treatments has been influenced by drug companies, through both legal and illegal marketing.
2. Mental illness is not caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.

These views, however controversial, are documented well, Angell says.

For instance, even though the goal of psychoactive drugs is to alter levels of neurotransmitters - brain chemicals - which affect mood, scientists have not found good evidence that it's the chemicals themselves that cause the mental illness. Before treatment, neurotransmitter function seems to be normal, they say.

"By this same logic one could argue that the cause of all pain conditions is a deficiency of opiates, since narcotic pain medications activate opiate receptors in the brain," writes Daniel Carlat, author of "Unhinged: The Trouble With Psychiatry - A Doctor’s Revelations About a Profession in Crisis."

So if drugs don't treat the cause of mental illness, what are they doing? Irving Kirsch argues in "The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth" that antidepressants work merely because patients believe they work, and the pills' side effects reinforce that belief.

As I wrote earlier this month, the placebo effect is the idea that a sham medical treatment, with no inherent healing properties, can sometimes operate as if it were an actual drug in alleviating pain and changing blood pressure, digestion and other involuntary functions. The more complex and involved the fake treatment, the more effective it's likely to be.

So keep that in mind when you consider that, according to Kirsch's research on Food and Drug Administration reviews of clinical trials of antidepressants, placebos were about 82% as effective as the drugs. And non-antidepressant treatments such as sedatives and opiates were just as effective. In fact, he found that "nearly any pill with side effects was slightly more effective in treating depression than an inert placebo," Angell writes. Kirsch speculates that, in fact, the side effects themselves are what convince patients that their antidepressants are working, and lead to them saying they feel less depressed.

Our CNNHealth.com mental health expert - Dr. Charles Raison, a psychiatrist at Emory University School of Medicine - says there is some truth to the idea that antidepressants work at least in part by the placebo effect, and science has borne that out. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, as physicians can harness this effect - for instance, in terms of the doctor-patient relationship itself being therapeutic - he says. But in patients with more severe depression, the placebo effect diminishes, so the drug must be doing something. You could even look at it like this: antidepressants may potentiate the placebo effect.

"Antidepressants are not perfect, but they definitely have saved many people’s lives," he says.

And if the myth of the chemical imbalance suggests that depressed people simply need more or less of certain brain chemicals, that's right, Raison says: "It’s pretty clear that depression is not like you’re running out of gas." But, of course, all emotions and thoughts are generated by physical interactions in the brain and the body, so at its core, depression is indeed a biologically based disorder. The brain is obviously quite complex, and antidepressants seem to help reset and recalibrate systems in the brain to help you feel better.

Angell will address the "wonder drug" popularity of mental illness treatments in the second part of her series.


soundoff (334 Responses)
  1. https://j-website.net

    This is something New !

    https://images.google.nu/url?q=https://j-website.net

    February 6, 2021 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Catalina Inzunza

    Earn 500 a Day With Our Passive Income System Doing These 3 Steps: Step 1: Get our ready made niche websites, Step 2: Setup your Paypal account. Step 3: Run our Unlimited Traffic System from our Free 850 sources of traffic and start earning your income in same day. More info: https://www.k3reviews.com/2020/08/16/monster-mode-700k/

    https://www.k3reviews.com/

    February 13, 2021 at 00:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. depression

    I have been on the anti-depressant nardil for 10 years and it cured my depression and social anxiety. Previously I had tried all the SSRI's without success. Nardil simply works and it saved my life.

    https://nardil.org

    February 14, 2021 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. phenelzine

    I have been on the anti-depressant nardil for 10 years and it cured my depression and social anxiety. Previously I had tried all the SSRI's without success. Nardil simply works and it saved my life.

    https://nardil.org

    February 14, 2021 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 1500 USA-Visitors-Daily

    I will drive 20000 google organic visitors using targeted keywords: https://www.seoclerk.com/Traffic/833336/I-will-drive-20000-google-organic-visitors-using-targeted-keywords

    https://www.seoclerk.com/user/jackpower99

    February 16, 2021 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. ClarkTauts

    kbw1f zep8j 5yem

    February 28, 2021 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Denis Mignano

    You've made some good points there. I looked on the net for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

    https://extraproxies.com/

    March 28, 2021 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Phil Cristofaro

    Everything is very open with a clear description of the issues. It was really informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!

    https://extraproxies.com

    March 29, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Roland Dahlquist

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the highest quality blogs on the net. I will recommend this blog!

    https://extraproxies.com/no-puedo-accesar-a-los-controles-de-un-footer-en-un-gridview-con-javascript/

    March 30, 2021 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Lilliana Groce

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to revisit yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

    https://extraproxies.com/tag/loadurlfromanchor/

    April 1, 2021 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. sildenafil tabs 50mg

    sildenafil 100mg canadian pharmacy https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil pills uk

    April 5, 2021 at 06:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. vardenafil levitra

    why vardenafil dosage over 65 https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil vs sildenafil

    April 5, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. alprostadil injection instructions

    alprostadil topical cream https://alprostadildrugs.com/ video of transurethral alprostadil admimistering

    April 6, 2021 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. tadalafil pills 20mg

    buy tadalafil https://elitadalafill.com/ what is tadalafil

    April 6, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. top erection pills

    erectile problems https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile review

    April 13, 2021 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. canadian pharmacies ed pills

    canadian customs pills vitamins https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pharmacies ed pills

    April 15, 2021 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. why vardenafil dosage over 65

    vardenafil vs viagra https://vegavardenafil.com/ how do you take vardenafil 20 mg?

    April 16, 2021 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Thomasina Afton

    I just could not depart your website prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard info a person provide for your visitors? Is gonna be back often in order to check up on new posts

    https://extraproxies.com/tag/taylors/

    April 17, 2021 at 00:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. alprostadil urethral suppository

    how much alprostadil pellets cost https://alprostadildrugs.com/ aloprostadil

    April 19, 2021 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. buy tadalafil

    generic tadalafil https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil gel

    April 24, 2021 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. sildenafil for pulmonary hypertension

    viagra pills order https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil prices canada

    April 28, 2021 at 03:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Billyua

    until the 90 Days to Feature First Same

    Meet the summer season 4 couples, Who might most likely make their debut in 2020, listed below:Stephanie, 29 (Yonkers, the big apple), in addition to Erika, 24 (projects)As a social networking influencer, Stephanie is used to collecting messages from her followers. She never asked, unfortunately, that her fans would become her next love interest. For the last several weeks, She's been in an online interconnection with Erika, A spunky Australian wedding photographer, But has been keeping Erika and her own sexual orientation a secret from her family. Stephanie is unsure how to break the news to her parents that she will be visiting Australia to meet a woman she loves. To further complicate the situation, She has a rare bone marrow disorder that requires clearance from her doctors to travel, As well as several remedies to keep her stable. She never thought, at the same time, the particular her fans would become her next love interest. For the last several weeks, She's been in an online kinship with Erika, A spunky Australian photographer, But has been keeping Erika and her own sexual angle a secret from her family. Stephanie is unsure how to break the news to her parents that she will be planing a trip to Australia to meet a woman she loves. To further complicate your position, She has a rare bone marrow disorder pots clearance from her doctors to travel, As well as several medical treatments to keep her stable. Stephanie is risking her health to satisfy the woman of her dreams.Darcey, 45 (Middletown, Conneticut), And mary, 39 (british)The self professed lover of love, Darcey is back and going forward to test the waters with her British "james bond, craig. To meet him in person in my ballet shoes after speaking online for four years. They hit rid of it, But the trip was not without its problem. this, Viewers continues to follow the pair as they try to resolve their differences and find out if being together forever is in their future. To meet him in person the very first time after speaking online for four years. They hit it well, But the trip was not without its trouble. finally, Viewers will continue to follow the pair as they try to resolve their differences and find out if being together forever is in their future. soon there after his second marriage ended in divorce, He suffered the tragic loss of his son. But life started to look up when he met Varya on a major international dating site. Despite their cultural disparities, They quickly bonded over their shared love of chance. right after his second marriage ended in divorce, He encountered the tragic loss of his son. But life started to look up when he met Varya on an international dating site. Despite their cultural dissimilarities, They quickly bonded over their shared love of risk. at present, Geoffrey has a trip to Russia on the horizon and is considering proposing to Varya, But he must first prove to her acquaintances that he's the right man for her.Avery, 32 (Seattle, wa), And lung burning ash, 38 (modern australia)When Avery and Ash installed on Instagram nine months ago, The single mom of two was immediately smitten. Their physical attraction converted into a soulful connection, And now Avery is headed to Australia to meet Ash personally. But Ash's profession as a relationship coach paired with Avery's distrust of the amount of time he spends talking with single women have already led to multiple breakups. Their physical attraction changed into a soulful connection, And now Avery is headed to Australia to meet Ash personally. But Ash's profession as a relationship coach paired with Avery's distrust of how long he spends talking with single women have already led to multiple breakups. Will Avery meet a man that can provide the stability she craves for her and her kids, Or will Ash be another failed relationships?Lisa, 52 (york, philadelphia), and Usman "SojaBoy, 30 (Nigeria)When Lisa found Usman's account on social media, She had no idea that he is a famous singer and dancer and musician in Nigeria, higher quality by his stage name, "SojaBoy, Lisa was immediately drawn to this younger man, But past relationships have left her with many trust issues, Causing her to lash out at Usman's fans and threaten them to avoid her man. Despite her jealousy, Usman consist of, And Lisa planning to become to Nigeria to marry a man she's never met before. Despite her jealousy, Usman suggested, And Lisa will most likely to Nigeria to marry a man she's never met before. in this fateful trip, Lisa will surely have to win over Usman's disapproving mother and friends or risk losing him forever. After living the single life for 28 years, Big Ed met the completely love of his life, Rosemarie, by just social media. right away, He's ready to take the leap and meet her the very first time in the Philippines, Bringing along his hopes for a second chance at love as well as a ring. After living solitary pilot is a life for 28 years, Big Ed met the adore of his life, Rosemarie, in the course of social media. actually, He's ready to take the leap and meet her in my ballet shoes in the Philippines, Bringing along his hopes for a second chance at love as well as a diamond ring. But the difficulties that come with a 31 year age gap, The disapproval of his only daughter and unanswered questions regarding Rosemarie's past threaten to cut Big Ed's fairytale romance short.he, 60 charm dating (vegas, nevada), coupled with Lana, 27 (Ukraine)steve, A cat loving computer coder, Swore off American women forever after a series of failed working relationships. Having always been drawn to Slavic beauties, He tried his luck on a Ukrainian dating website and fell excited about Lana. next, After seven a great deal of speaking online, He is taking his fourth trip to the Ukraine to meet her. He's tried three times before, But each trip resulted in Lana ghosting him. David has now spent roughly $100,000 on romantic relationship and hopes this journey will finally lead to them meeting in person and getting engaged. Having always been drawn to Slavic beauties, He tried his luck on a Ukrainian dating website and fell excited about Lana. right now, After seven times of speaking online, He takes his fourth trip to the Ukraine to meet her. He's tried three times past to, But each trip resulted in Lana ghosting him. David has recently spent roughly $100,000 on every thing has become and hopes this journey will finally lead to them meeting in person and getting engaged. If Lana is unseen up again, however, David is adamant this can be the last straw in their complicated relationship, And he need never spend a dollar on her again.

    April 30, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. priligy

    buy priligy usa dapoxetine 100 mg

    May 3, 2021 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. https://shiatsu-web.com

    Best view i have ever seen !

    https://www.google.md/url?q=https://shiatsu-web.com

    May 6, 2021 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Billfzm

    Here's why you will NEVER find the perfect man on the computer

    not long ago, A study revealed online daters are more inclined to end up in a happy marriage than those who meet randomly.

    I agree with the psychologists' view that it's due to there being a higher motivation to find love among internet daters.

    There's a lot that's right about online dating. It's time efficient simply go online in the comfort of your own home and view hundreds of potential partners on any number of dating websites catering for preferred taste. And it's convenient you can narrow the quest for a partner by listing what you will and won't put up with.

    But the biggest advantage of online dating service is also the biggest disadvantage. On the benefit, It means the people you meet could be more compatible with you than some random guy you meet in a bar who you know nothing about.

    Why will you never meet a great man online? because there's no such thing, Says Tracey Cox and if seriously believe there is, You're heading for distress

    On drawback to having, It feeds into our already rampant expectations that there is indeed a perfect person out there who will tick all our boxes. Online dating is like making a grocery list. You're effectively making a list of all the properties and features that make up your idea of the perfect person: Hair colors, levels, compensation, appreciates, disfavors.

    And the trouble with clicking all those boxes online is that we start to think there's someone out there who would actually have all those things.

    RELATED ARTICLES history 1 2 Next

    The web's a dark place there is however one glimmer of hope Online daters are 'more likely adam 4 adam to end up in a happy. read more by Ttracey Cox on her blog, wedge pillow Talk

    So when you do meet up with someone and quite like them, There's a little voice in your thoughts saying, 'This guy's nice but he's not perfect. Maybe the following guy I meet will tick all the boxes'.

    So you own one more online date and he's not completely without fault either, So you try another and another and let me save you a whole lot of bother by suggesting this straight up: There is no perfect person out there for you because there's no perfect person out there for anyone. they don't exist.

    Tracey Cox: 'We're person. this site has flaws. Believing in Mr Perfect is about as silly as believing Christian Grey does indeed exist'

    Even if you end up falling head over heels for a person and they do seem perfect at the time, once love hormones wear off, you can have one or two areas where he won't be flawless. it's known as real life. you're human. We have flaws and skin problems. Believing in Mr Perfect is about as silly as believing Christian Grey does indeed exist.

    The other thing I can tell you is the person you'll end up falling for would look and be nothing like what you're imagining right now. And this is the other great failing of international dating: It discounts one imperative, significantly powerful variable chemistry.

    Chemistry is what's responsible when you meet some guy who is totally not your physical type and the full opposite in personality to guys you normally get on with but you don't care. It's unreasonable, reasonless and out of our conscious control because it works on a primitive level based largely on whether your body wants to get close to theirs (Which is why you do not know if you've got it until you meet in person).

    The list goes out the window when chemistry walks into our lives and so it should. Chemistry alone won't guarantee you a great bond but if you have it, You're streets ahead of the couple who don't.

    By all means date online it's an efficient and successful way to meet a partner. Just realize that the more specific you are and the more boxes you tick, The fewer men you're going to meet in person.

    The more closed you are about the 'type' you're prepared to meet, The less likely you are to meet someone who really is designed for you but just happens to be one year younger and half an inch shorter than the box you ticked.

    May 7, 2021 at 04:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Micheal Smith

    Great post! I like to learn, and I have learned something! Thanks you very much keep the good work!

    https://sites.google.com/view/senikintsisho-no-shizen-chiyu/home

    May 19, 2021 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. See Schnobrich

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this blog. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal website now 😉

    https://extraproxies.com/tag/sponsorships/

    May 20, 2021 at 04:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. chloroquineorigin

    chloroquine nz chloroquine sulfate chloroquine price in india https://chloroquineorigin.com/

    May 21, 2021 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Soosteemocush

    what is tadalafil tadalafil online with out prescription where to buy cialis without prescription tadalafil order online no prescription https://tadalafilol.com/ – cheap cialis pills for sale

    May 23, 2021 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. combigan

    buy combigan online combigan cost

    May 23, 2021 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. cyclomune

    Cyclomune eye drops 0.05% cyclosporine lab tube

    May 23, 2021 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. avanafil

    avanafil dose avana canada

    May 25, 2021 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. brimonidine

    brimonidine dosage combigan generic

    May 26, 2021 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. cialis generic

    tadalafil medication buy cialis pills tadalafil troche

    June 4, 2021 at 03:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. tadalafil price at walmart

    how long does tadalafil last tadalafil online with out prescription tadalafil citrate powder

    June 4, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. hydroxychloroquine sulfate corona

    hydroxychloroquine cures chloroquine cancer hydroxychoriquine

    June 5, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. buy generic cialis online with mastercard

    tadalafil benefits where to buy cialis without prescription steel drops medicine

    June 5, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. hidroxicloroquina

    cloriquine hydroxychloroquine bnf malaria drug chloroquine

    June 6, 2021 at 02:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. cloroquine

    hydroxychloroquine 200 mg high generic chloroquine phosphate hydroxychloroquine sulfate classification

    June 6, 2021 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. pharmaceptica.com

    chloroquine phosphate vs chloroquine sulphate https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Tomiko Esmiol

    Great articles. Thank you for the information what is the best program to learn to speak spanish?

    https://www.spanishtogo.app

    June 25, 2021 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. www.pharmaceptica.com

    canada generic tadalafil https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 25, 2021 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. pharmaceptica.com

    tadalafil pah https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4

Leave a Reply to JE


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.