Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Placebo Response Likely Explains 'Poop-Out' of Antidepressants

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Placebo Response Likely Explains 'Poop-Out' of Antidepressants

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO -- If a patient with depression comes into the office and says that his antidepressant has stopped working, the drug you gave him probably was never working at all, Dr. Mark Zimmerman said at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

That patient probably had a placebo response, said Dr. Zimmerman, director of outpatient psychiatric services at Rhode Island Hospital, Providence.

Dr. Zimmerman said he was interested in why antidepressants seem to "poop out" when patients take them long term, and so he conducted a meta-analysis of continuation studies.

He identified four extension studies--the only type of continuation study that can be analyzed for its placebo effect-related relapse; in these studies, the patients were treated for their acute depression with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor for 6-8 weeks, followed by a continuation phase in which patients continued to take their drug for up to an additional year.

Dr. Zimmerman pooled the studies' data and used a method first described in 1993 to estimate the percentage of cases that can be attributed to a loss of placebo response (Am. …

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