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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jul 8;(3):CD007954. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007954.

Antidepressants versus placebo for depression in primary care.

Author information

1
Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Concern has been expressed about the relevance of secondary care studies to primary care patients specifically about the effectiveness of antidepressant medication. There is a need to review the evidence of only those studies that have been conducted comparing antidepressant efficacy with placebo in primary care-based samples.

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the efficacy and tolerability of antidepressants in patients (under the age of 65 years) with depression in primary care.

SEARCH STRATEGY:

All searches were conducted in September 2007.The Cochrane Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Group (CCDAN) Controlled Trials Register was searched, together with a supplementary search of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, LILACS, CINAHL and PSYNDEX. Abstracts of all possible studies for inclusion were assessed independently by two reviewers. Further trials were sought through searching the reference lists of studies initially identified and by scrutinising other relevant review papers. Selected authors and experts were also contacted.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

Studies were selected if they were randomised controlled trials of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) versus placebo in adults. Older patients (over 65 years) were excluded. Patients had to be recruited from a primary care setting. For continuous outcomes the Hamilton Depression scale of the Montgomery Asberg Scale was requred.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

Data were extracted using data extraction forms by two reviewers independently, with disagreements resolved by discussion. A similar process was used for the validity assessment. Pooling of results was done using Review Manager 5. The primary outcome was depression reduction, based on a dichotomous measure of clinical response, using relative risk (RR), and on a continuous measure of depression symptoms, using the mean difference (MD), with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

MAIN RESULTS:

There were fourteen studies (16 comparisons) with extractable data included in the review, of which ten studies examined TCAs, two examined SSRIs and two included both classes, all compared with placebo. The number of participants in the intervention groups was 1364 and in the placebo groups 919. Nearly all studies were of short duration, typically 6-8 weeks. Pooled estimates of efficacy data showed an RR of 1.24, 95% CI 1.11-1.38 in favour of TCAs against placebo. For SSRIs this was 1.28, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.43.. The numbers needed to treat (NNT) for TCAs ranged from 7 to 16 {median NNT 9} patient expected event rate ranged from 63% to 26% respectively) and for SSRIs from 7 to 8 {median NNT 7} (patient expected event rate ranged from 48% to 42% respectively) . The numbers needed to harm (NNH for withdrawal due to side effects) ranged from 4 to 30 for TCAs (excluding three studies with no harmful events leading to withdrawal) and 20 to 90 for SSRIs.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:

Both TCAs and SSRIs are effective for depression treated in primary care.

PMID:
19588448
DOI:
10.1002/14651858.CD007954
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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