Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also called SSRIs, are commonly used as antidepressants. Some claim that these drugs are ineffective, but a new analysis may show otherwise. University of Gothenburg researchers discovered that the claims were partially based on misinterpretation of past clinical trial outcomes. As claims of ineffectiveness have grown the authorities in numerous countries have become more cautious about using these drugs and recommending them for depression. One reason for the claims is that studies which were conducted in the past showed that fewer than 50% of the trials reported findings of statistically significant differences between the individuals who received the SSRI drug and those who received the placebo.
The claims about selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors being ineffective as antidepressants were possibly debunked when researchers found that the reason for the findings in past trials was an outdated rating scale which was still in use decades ago. According to pharmacologist and lead researcher Elias Eriksson, M.D., Ph.D. “In order to measure the antidepressant effect, the pharmaceutical companies have unwisely assessed the reduction in the sum score for a large number of symptoms listed on a rating scale. However, the sensitivity of this instrument is markedly marred by the fact that many of these symptoms occur also in subjects without depression, while others are absent also in many depressed patients. For this and other reasons, the usefulness of this rating scale, which was constructed already during the 1950s, has since long been questioned.”