Antidepressant treatment of depression: a metaanalysis

Can J Psychiatry. 1996 Dec;41(10):613-6. doi: 10.1177/070674379604101002.


Objective: To carry out a metaanalysis of antidepressant studies to calculate the effect sizes for antidepressant effect in depressive disorder.

Method: A metaanalysis of all antidepressant studies that included an active comparison drug as well as placebo was used to calculate the effect size. Articles were selected from a MEDLINE search for the period January 1966 to June 1995. Forty-nine studies were included in the metaanalysis.

Results: The effect sizes for antidepressant treatment are moderately larger than for placebo. A larger effect size was observed in studies where objective diagnostic criteria for depression were used.

Conclusions: We conclude that the superior efficacy of antidepressants over placebo can be demonstrated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Humans
  • Personality Inventory
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents