People who are recruited to participate in studies of antidepressant medications may not represent typical depressed patients.
According to a new study, subjects in clinical trials of antidepressants do not appear to reflect real world conditions. The investigators examined more than 4,000 participants in the landmark STAR*D study, the largest and longest study of depression treatment that has ever been conducted. Because it was so large, the STAR*D trial deliberately included many people similar to those doctors and psychiatrists often treat.
The researchers found, however, that more than 80 percent of the individuals in STAR*D wouldn’t qualify for most antidepressant trials. Some would have been left out because they were over 65; others would be excluded because they have another medical condition in addition to depression.
How Well Do Studies Reflect the Real World for Doctors and Depressed Patients?
The result is that studies of antidepressants don’t really tell doctors or patients how well the drugs will work in real life. In fact, most antidepressants have a disappointing performance in clinical practice compared to how well they do in highly controlled clinical trials.