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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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Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

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Aug 28, 2015
Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

A legendary natural sound collector shares his recordings. We’ll listen in.

 
Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A deadly shooting on live TV. Wall Street’s roller coaster ride. Biden considers a White House bid. 10 years since Katrina.

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