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Scientific debate instead of beef; challenging misleading arguments about the efficacy of antidepressants

  • Michael P. Hengartner (a1)

Extract

In a recent commentary with the polemic title ‘Antidepressants; what’s the beef?’, Goodwin and Nutt argued that the benefit-risk ratio of antidepressants had been questioned inappropriately (Goodwin & Nutt, 2019). Personally I think it is a great achievement that our medical system can offer pharmacological treatments to people who suffer from serious clinical depression, and like Goodwin and Nutt I accept that antidepressants may be useful in some patients (Hengartner & Plöderl, 2018). Nevertheless, and this is where my position deviates from Goodwin and Nutt, I am also concerned about the overestimation of efficacy and the minimisation of harm (Hengartner, 2017). There are many misrepresentations in the commentary by Goodwin and Nutt, all of which systematically inflate the apparent benefits of antidepressants, and in this letter, I will discuss five of them.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Michael P. Hengartner, Email: michaelpascal.hengartner@zhaw.ch

References

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Goodwin, GM and Nutt, D (2019) Antidepressants; what’s the beef? Acta Neuropsychiatrica 31, 5960.
Hengartner, MP (2017) Methodological flaws, conflicts of interest, and scientific fallacies: Implications for the evaluation of antidepressants’ efficacy and harm. Front Psychiatry 8, 275.
Hengartner, MP and Plöderl, M (2018) Statistically significant antidepressant-placebo differences on subjective symptom-rating scales do not prove that the drugs work: Effect size and method bias matter! Front Psychiatry 9, 517.
Jakobsen, JC, Katakam, KK, Schou, A, Hellmuth, SG, Stallknecht, SE, Leth-Moller, K, Iversen, M, Banke, MB, Petersen, IJ, Klingenberg, SL, Krogh, J, Ebert, SE, Timm, A, Lindschou, J and Gluud, C (2017) Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors versus placebo in patients with major depressive disorder. A systematic review with meta-analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis. BMC Psychiatry 17, 58.
Senn, S (2018) Statistical pitfalls of personalized medicine. Nature 563, 619621.

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Scientific debate instead of beef; challenging misleading arguments about the efficacy of antidepressants

  • Michael P. Hengartner (a1)

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