Only some very seriously depressed patients will benefit from fluoxetine, venlafaxine, nefazodone or paroxetine, they claim.
The findings come from a meta-analysis of 47 clinical trials on the four drugs . Data was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act to ensure all trials, including those not published because of disappointing results, were assessed to avoid bias.
Analysis showed no clinically significant differences in outcome between the antidepressants and placebo in mildly depressed patients or the majority of patients with severe depression.
Only those who were extremely depressed at outset appeared to benefit from the drugs. But this was mostly because the patients had a poor response to placebo.
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