Earlier this week, I wrote a blog about a segment that aired on “60 Minutes” this Sunday. It featured Harvard psychologist Irving Kirsch discussed findings from a study he claims shows that placebos are “just as effective” as antidepressants in the treatment of depression.
In response, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has issued a statement slamming the piece. John Oldham, MD, the association’s president, called it not only wrong, but “irresponsible and dangerous reporting." The statement also claimed Kirsch’s conclusions have already been discredited by the FDA, European Medicine Agency, and a number of clinical psychiatrists.
"It is unfortunate that ‘60 Minutes’ has provided its viewers with highly misleading information,” said Oldham. “I encourage everyone taking antidepressants to talk with [their] doctor before making any changes." He also wrote a letter to "60 Minutes" producer Richard Bonin, which you can read here.
The APA did acknowledge that medications are “not always the first choice” in treating depression. In fact, the group’s treatment guidelines for depression recommend psychotherapy first for mild to moderate depression, while the possibility of introducing antidepressants should only be explored when those efforts fall short.
During the past few days, some other media outlets across the country have covered the reaction of the medical community. Some share the same outrage, calling the allegations about antidepressants “explosive.” Others say the claims are old news, as both of Kirsch’s studies are over 10 years old.
In either case, it leaves me wondering whether antidepressants deserve more attention and more scrutiny than they receive (even if the "60 Minutes" piece was over the top). Maybe they serve as a useful reminder of what the field’s role in this market it supposed to be. What do you think the field's role should be, or is enough already being done?