No magic pill: A prescription for enhancedshared decision-making in the treatment of depression

(Jan 2019)

Cosgrove, L. Erlich, D. Shaughnessy, A. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 2019 Jan-Feb; 32(1): 6-9

For over 2 decades, there have been debates, sometimes contentious, about the efficacy and safety of antidepressants. Growing awareness of the difficulty some patients have when discontinuing these medications has intensified these debates. Recently, Cipriani and colleagues published the largest meta-analysis to date that assessed the efficacy and tolerability of antidepressants. They concluded that all were more efficacious than placebo, and they also synthesized the trial results from head-to-head studies in an effort to guide pharmacologic treatment for major depressive disorder in adults. Although the researchers acknowledged many limitations in their analysis, including the fact that effect sizes were modest at best, the media overstated the results of the study. Both the meta-analysis and the news stories reinvigorated the debates about whether or not antidepressants “work.” Unfortunately, however, the key question-how can this meta-analysis help physicians in assisting their patients with a difficult decision about depression treatment options?-was lost in the controversy. In this commentary, we identify the questions and challenges that were not addressed in the current debate and offer specific suggestions for enhancing shared decision making for physicians working in primary care settings. Read more