Efficacy of Psychotherapy for Depression ‘Overstated’

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is one of the most common forms of treatment for people with depression. But a new study published in PLOS ONE suggests the benefits of such treatment may have been overstated by previous research.

As an example, the researchers point to one study that identified 74 placebo-controlled antidepressant studies that had been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of the 38 studies that showed the benefits of antidepressants, 37 were published. However, of the 36 studies that showed antidepressants in a negative light, 61% were not published, while 31% were “spun” to make them appear positive.

For their study, the researchers set out to investigate whether psychotherapy — a treatment that is frequently offered to patients with mild to moderate major depressive disorder — may also have been subject to publication bias.

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