Antidepressants: How Effective in Physically Ill Depressed Patients?

March 31, 2010

Antidepressants effectively combat depression in people who are physically healthy. But how effective are these agents for depressed patients who are physically ill?

Antidepressants effectively combat depression in people who are physically healthy. But how effective are these agents for depressed patients who are physically ill?
      To find out, Rayner and colleagues identified 51 randomized, controlled trials that compared the efficacy of therapy with antidepressants vs placebo in 3603 depressed adults with a physical illness. Efficacy at 6-8 weeks after randomization was the primary outcome. Efficacy data for this outcome showed an OR of 2.33 (CI 1.80-3.00, p<0.00001) in favor of antidepressants. These agents were also superior to placebo at 4-5 weeks, 9-18 weeks, and after 18 weeks.
       The authors speculate that publication and reporting biases likely exaggerated these effect sizes and recommend further investigation. Details here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20238354