Recent research would indicate that the current medical treatments do not seem to work well for depressed.1 At the same time, there is concern concern that the way we make diagnosis will apply the label of depressed to many who actually have emotional struggles but no disease.2 There is also some indication that medicines may not be working as well as they did in the past.3 Instead of finding a cause and cure for depression, we seem to be diagnosing more people with depression, but with questionable benefit4 and significant side effects.5 (Charles Hodges, Good Mood Bad Mood, p. 13-14).
1 Jay Fournier, Robert DeRubeis, Steven Holton, Steven Hollon et al. “Antidepressant Drug Effects and Depression Severity,” Journal of the American Medical Association 2010:303, (1):51. This study indicated that true drug effect was “nonexistent to negligible” for individuals with mild, moderate, and even severe depression. Only in “very severe depression” was true drug effect seen as compared to placebo.
2 Alan Horwitz, “Creating an Age of Depression: The Social Construction and Consequences of the Major Depression Diagnosis,” Society and Mental Health, 2011, 1 (1) 41-54. Horwitz concludes on page 51 that the rapid increase in the rate of depression was better explained by changes in the criteria used to make the diagnosis rather than an increase in the prevalence of the disease.
3 N. A. Khin, Y. E Chen, Y. Yang et al. “Exploratory analysis of efficacy data from major depressive disorder trials submitted to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration in support of new drug applications,” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2011 Apr; 72 (4) accessed at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21527123 (accessed on 4/20/2012). This article indicated that the effect of placebos in drug trials had increased in the years 1983-2008 while “treatment effect clearly decreased.”
4 Alan Horwitz, “Creating an Age of Depression,” 49. From 1987 to 1997 “the proportion of the U. S. population receiving outpatient therapy for conditions called depression increased 300 percent.”
5 E Andrews, J. A. “Thomson, A. Amstadter, M. Neale, “Primum non nocere: an evolutionary analysis of whether antidepressants do more harm than good,” Frontiers in Psychology, April 2012:3(117) 1-19. This is an excellent review of the current literature on depression. The authors state, “The weight of the current evidence suggests that antidepressants are neither safe nor effective.” They do not say they should not be used but maintain that these medications should be used less.