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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 11005

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Moncrieff J.
In Debate: Are Antidepressants as Effective as Claimed? No, They Are Not Effective at All
Can J Psychiatry 2007 Feb; 52:(2):96–97


Antidepressant drugs are claimed to have specific effects on depressive symptoms. It is assumed that they do this by acting on an abnormal brain state that gives rise to depression. In contrast, I suggest that there is no evidence for this position. The effects of antidepressants seen in depression trials can easily be accounted for by nonspecific pharmacologic and psychological actions.


Free full text at Can J Psychiatry site

Links to rest of debate:

Are Antidepressants as Effective as Claimed? Yes, But . . .
Lakshmi Ravindran, Sidney H Kennedy

Rebuttal: Depression Is Not a Brain Disease
Joanna Moncrieff

Response to Dr Moncrieff
Lakshmi Ravindran, Sidney H Kennedy


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963