Active Placebos, Depression Influencers and Depression Prognosis – 3 New Things

Time to learn another three new things about mental health. This week we have:

  • Further discussion on Antidepressant Effectiveness (vs. Placebos)
  • Infographic on influential depression information sources
  • Depression prognosis over 10 years

1. Antidepressants: Lifesavers—or Active Placebos?

Monday I discussed the rate at which people with depression respond to placebos (pills that do nothing). My point was not that antidepressants don’t work – far from it – it’s that some people do respond to sugar pills as if they were real medication.

Some people may have mistaken this for me suggesting that antidepressants aren’t effective, however. And it just so happens that the Psychiatric Times was considering this subject just as I was, so please check out Antidepressants: Lifesavers—or Active Placebos? for all the details on this subject.

To quote the article:

. . . the treatment of depression is an art that requires many tools—from family support, to CBT, to medication.

“We will not save lives by dismissing any of the tools we have today just because they are not effective for everyone,” he said. “But we should not be limited in the future by current treatments.”

2. Top 10 Online Influencers Making a Difference in Depression

Natasha Tracy Top Depression InfluencerThis week ShareCare announced their list of the Top 10 Online Influencers Making a Difference in the World of Depression. ShareCare isn’t a site with which I’m overly familiar but among other things, they have subject matter experts that answer your questions on health topics.

Their top 10 depression influencers list is presented as an infographic and you can see it here. Yes, I’m at number two in a list of incredible people working for major organizations. I’m honored to have made their list.

3. Depression Prognosis Over 10 Years

I can tell you that about 75% of people respond successfully to appropriate depression treatment.* I can tell you that if you work with a doctor and a therapist you will likely experience meaningful symptom remission over time.

What I cannot tell you, however, is whether you will be depressed again in the future. It depends on a lot of variables but even knowing all of those, it’s still difficult to predict.

This study, though, followed people from the start of their treatment for major depression for 10 years. And here’s what they found:

  • 77% of the follow-up months were spent non-depressed (euthymic)
  • 16% of the follow-up months were spent in a sub-threshold depression (some depressive symptoms but not rising to the level of clinical depression)
  • 7% in major depression

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the full text, but the data, nonetheless, is interesting. I think knowing that you are statistically likely to spend three-quarters of your life symptom-free is a hopeful positive.

Thanks all. I’ll let you know when I learn more and do better.

* I was asked where this comes from. It is a widely-accepted number; you’ll note it’s used here.


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