Army of therapists to push aside pills for depression

England responds to questions about the efficacy of antidepressants:

The government yesterday released details of its £170m plan to train 3,600 more psychological therapists in the wake of a study showing that antidepressant drugs such as Prozac are no more effective than a placebo.

About 900,000 more people will be treated for depression and anxiety under the plan, according to the Department of Health, which predicts that 450,000 of them will be completely cured. The department also believes that 25,000 fewer people will claim sick pay and benefits because of mental health problems.

“The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme has already captured the imagination of primary care trusts up and down the country and is transforming the lives of thousands of people with depression and anxiety disorders in the areas that have been involved so far,” said Alan Johnson, the health secretary.

A study published in the open access journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine on Tuesday revealed that Prozac, Seroxat and other antidepressants of the same class had performed no better than dummy pills in the earliest trials in the 1980s. No such analysis has been done before because of the reluctance of the pharmaceutical companies to hand over the full trial results.