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Do Antidepressants Work?

A bottle of Eli Lilly & Co.'s Prozac is pictured at a company facility in Plainfield, Ind., Jan. 11, 2008.

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America has been called the “Prozac nation.” Millions of Americans spend billions a year on antidepressants whose brand names rain down in TV and magazine ads — Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Prozac.

And depression itself is a tough and undertreated reality for millions.

But how well do antidepressants really work? A new study says that for millions of people, maybe not much better than a placebo. “Expensive Tic Tacs,” Newsweek called them last week. But what if they make a difference even so?

This hour, On Point: the complicated truth about depression and antidepressants.

Guests:

Joining us from New York is Sharon Begley, senior editor at Newsweek. Her cover story for the February 8 issue is “The Depressing News About Antidepressants.”

Joining us from Nashville is Stephen Hollon, professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University.  He co-authored a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which found that for patients with mild to moderate levels of depression, placebos and antidepressants had about the same effect.

And from New York we’re joined by Robert Klitzman, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, and director of their Masters’ of Bioethics program. He’s author of “When Doctors Become Patients.”  Read his take on the antidepressant debate in Newsweek.

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