Docs don't prescribe enough antid's: Part II

I finally watched the MSN video that I talked about here.

MSNBC

As I predicted, it was extremely lame. It was a pitch to get on depressed people on antidepressants. The 1 minute 18 second video from Today stated the following:

  • doctors prescribe smaller doses of antidepressants than they should
  • depression is the most common cause of disability America
  • the “groundbreaking new study” says antid’s aren’t prescribed enough to be effective
  • medication and therapy can help 70 percent of patients recover IF they find the right combination
  • Casey Thompson – the lady above featured in the video taking pills (hooray!) – feels amazingly better after getting antid’s

The accompanying article also states that 13 percent of the 123 study participants who did not get better on the first three drugs they tried were helped by a fourth. If I’m correct, essentially 16 people were helped after trying four different antid’s. The article says 37 percent went into remission after starting Celexa (citalopram), made by Forest Laboratories. That would mean about 46 people saw immediate remission of symptoms. The rest – 77 people now – “switched to another antidepressant or continued with Celexa and added a second treatment.” The second round on the merry-go-round helped 31 percent of the remaining group: 24 people. Ok, so we’re now down to 53 people who haven’t been helped. The third attempt – whatever that was, the article doesn’t say – had a 14 percent success rate: 7 people. And the fourth attempt had a success rate of 13 percent of the leftovers: 6 people. That means 40 people were NOT helped by antidepressants are these combination of treatments. Therefore, “67 percent of the total group had been helped by one or more drugs.” Nice pitch.

Here’s where the Today video fails to educate its viewers:

“However, 40 percent of those who achieved remission on their first drug relapsed within a year. That rose to 55 percent of those who took two tries to succeed and 65 percent and 70 percent of those requiring three and four tries, respectively.”

Therefore, the more times a person needs to try different antidepressants, the likelihood that it won’t work significantly increases. These people were monitored for about 3.5 months then left to their own devices. It’s not surprising that 40 people relapsed in one year. Overall then, more than half of the 123 patients did not have luck with antidepressants – about 65 percent (80 people).

But let’s overlook all that. According to NBC’s Michelle Kosinski, if doctors prescribe enough medicine and patients find the “right combination,” people suffering from clinical depression will be all better! Just ask Casey Thompson.

(That report fueled my distaste for short-segment broadcast news.)

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