1. Exquisite Tweets from @openDemocracy, @StuartJRitchie

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    "Between 65% - 80% of people taking anti-depressants are depressed again within a year" - says @johannhari101

    Why? Watch @BenjaminRamm's full interview on his new book >> opendemocracy.net/johann-hari

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    openDemocracy

    openDemocracy

  2. Thread -> In publicity for his new book on depression, Johann Hari has repeatedly made the following claim: "between 65 and 80% of people on antidepressants are depressed again within a year". He says it in this extract: theguardian.com/society/2018/j…

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    Here he is saying it in a video, right at the start: twitter.com/openDemocracy/…

    openDemocracy @openDemocracy
    "Between 65% - 80% of people taking anti-depressants are depressed again within a year" - says @johannhari101

    Why? Watch @BenjaminRamm's full interview on his new book >> opendemocracy.net/johann-hari

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    Disgracefully, no source is given for this alarming claim. Maybe there's one in his book, which comes out tomorrow. In the meantime, I took a quick look at the recent(ish) meta-analyses of research on relapse rates after/during antidepressant use.

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    (Incidentally, I should note that we might still consider the drugs to "work" if the relapse rate *without them* is higher than "between 65 and 80%". But let's just see if Hari's numbers are right).

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    This 2003 meta-analysis of 31 studies found a 1-year relapse rate of 19% with antidepressants (vs. 41% with placebo): ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12606176

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    This 2008 meta-analysis of 23 studies found a 1-year relapse rate of ~20% with antidepressants (vs. ~40% with placebo - see Figure 3): ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    This 2009 meta-analysis of 11 studies found a 1-year relapse rate of 23% with antidepressants (vs. 51% with placebo): onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hu…

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    This 2016 meta-analysis of 72 brief studies (~8 months) found a relapse rate of 23.3% with antidepressants (49.4% w/discontinuation); and of 37 longer studies (~2yrs) found a relapse rate of 24.5% (vs. 55.6% w/placebo): ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/P…

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    In case it's not obvious: none of those relapse numbers even *approaches the lower bound* of Johann Hari's "65-80%" claim. So, help me out here - where on Earth did he get his numbers? Did I miss something important?

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    Note: I'm sure there's publication bias; I'm sure many of the meta-analysed studies are dodgy; etc etc. But if you're going to make authoritative-sounding claims about depression in the media, surely you've got to have *some* link to the published studies?

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie

    Conclusion: if that claim's in his book--and if I'm right that the systematic reviews show that it's false--the book will need to be corrected ASAP, or it could do real damage. [The end].

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    StuartJRitchie

    Stuart Ritchie