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Commentary: The Current Crisis of Confidence in Antidepressants [CME]

J Clin Psychiatry 2011;72(1):27-33
10.4088/JCP.10035co1c

Recent events have affected the public perception of the safety and efficacy of antidepressants and raised questions for clinicians who treat patients with these medications. Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD, organized a panel of nationally recognized experts in psychiatry to discuss these issues. The panel agreed that the data regarding the efficacy of antidepressants are complex, making it easy to misinterpret meta-analysis results. Additionally, the issue of suicidality is quite complicated, but the risk is not great enough to abandon the use of antidepressants, although patients should be monitored carefully. Patients who have mild or moderate depression may benefit from receiving evidence-based psychotherapy first, instead of antidepressants. The panel stressed that additional research and novel treatments are needed to improve outcomes for patients with depression. However, measurement-based pharmacotherapy is an effective tool for helping many patients with depression achieve remission and recovery. Clear communication with the public, the media, and nonpsychiatric clinicians about the safety and efficacy of antidepressants will encourage those who need treatment to seek it.