Pop a million happy pills? Antidepressants, nuance, and the mediaBMJ 2018; 360 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1069 (Published 09 March 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k1069
- Kate Adlington, clinical editor, The BMJ
“Pop more happy pills,” screamed the Sun’s front page on 22 February. It referred to the first major network meta-analysis comparing 21 antidepressants for acute depression in adults, published in the Lancet.1 All were found to be more effective than placebo for short term treatment.2
“Antidepressants: major study finds they work,” said the BBC. “The drugs do work: antidepressants are effective, study shows,” announced Sarah Boseley in the Guardian,3 in contrast to her coverage of a previous meta-analysis almost a decade ago: “Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists.”45
Many news outlets called for more prescribing: “Antidepressants should be given to a million more Britons,” instructed the Telegraph.6 But what about …
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