Antidepressants work, study finds - and a million more British people should take them

Rob Waugh
Antidepressants are effective, study shows

Experts have long been divided over how effective antidepressants actually are – but a major new study has shown that the drugs do work.

The study analysed data from 522 trials involving 116,477 people, and found that antidepressants were more effective at reducing symptoms of acute depression than placebo pills.

The researchers behind the report, published in the Lancet, said that it showed that a million more people in Britain could benefit from the drugs.


Lead researcher Dr Andrea Cipriani of the University of Oxford said, ‘This study is the final answer to a long-standing controversy about whether anti-depressants work for depression.

‘We found the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants work for moderate to severe depression and I think this is very good news for patients and clinicians.’

‘Medication should always be cnsidered alongside other options, such as psychological therapies, where these are available.’

The researchers found that 21 popular antidepressants were all more effective than placebo, but that some drugs were more effective than others.

In general, newer drugs tended to be better tolerated as they caused fewer side effects.

But the most effective drug at reducing depression was amitriptyline, a drug first discovered in the 1950s.