Do antidepressants work?

There is an active debate underway in the popular literature about whether antidepressant medications actually do anything chemically helpful for depressed patients. No one doubts that many patients report feeling better, and that most evidence less depression on standardized rating scales, following treatment. But much of that improvement appears to be due to psychological factors, […]

Placebos (2)

In my last post, I wrote about the use of placebos in clinical practice — or more accurately, about giving medical treatments based on psychological comfort, not physiological effect. However, the area where placebos are most used and accepted is human research, not clinical practice. Psychiatric research in particular introduces some interesting conceptual issues regarding […]

Placebos (1)

The headline of a recent New York Times article was cause for public alarm: “Half of Doctors Routinely Prescribe Placebos.” A casual glance might have given the impression that doctors dispense sugar pills half the time, but this would be a misreading of the reported finding. The article followed a research report that appeared in […]