The Efficacy of Antidepressants on Overall Well-Being and Self-Reported Depression Symptom Severity in Youth: A Meta-Analysisby Glen I. Spielmans and Katherine GerwigPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 2014 83:158–164.
Background: Recent meta-analyses of the efficacy of second- generation antidepressants for youth have concluded that such drugs possess a statistically significant advantage over placebo in terms of clinician-rated depressive symptoms. However, no meta-analysis has included measures of quality of life, global mental health, self-esteem, or autonomy. Further, prior meta-analyses have not included self-reports of depressive symptoms.Methods: Studies were selected through searching Medline, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Central Register for Controlled Trials databases as well as GlaxoSmithKline’s online trial registry. We included self-reports of depressive symptoms and pooled measures of quality of life, global mental health, self-esteem, and autonomous functioning as a proxy for overall well-being.Results: We found a nonsignificant difference between second- generation antidepressants and placebo in terms of self-reported depressive symptoms [k = 6 trials, g = 0.06, p = 0.36]. Further, pooled across measures of quality of life, global mental health, self-esteem, and autonomy, antidepressants yielded no significant advantage over placebo [k = 3 trials, g = 0.11, p = 0.13].Discussion: Though limited by a small number of trials, our analyses suggest that antidepressants offer little to no benefit in improving overall well-being among depressed children and adolescents.