Danish study raises doubts over effect of anti-depression meds

Research into the effects of antidepressant medicines is so lacking that we can’t be certain the medicines work, according to the results of an analysis carried out by Danish researchers.

Danish study raises doubts over effect of anti-depression meds
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix

The conclusions come from an analysis conducted at the Nordic Cochrane Centre and were first reported by

Asger Sand Paludan-Müller, a PhD student and one of the co-authors of the analysis, said that some people do feel better when taking anti-depressants.

But it is not yet possible to conclude with certainty that the medicine is responsible for their improvement, he said.

“We are not saying (anti-depression medication) doesn’t work. But the studies that have been done are often of poor quality and it’s therefore difficult to say anything about the effect of antidepressants,” Paludan-Müller told Ritzau.

Although previous studies have found antidepressants to be beneficial in treatment of depression, the effect may be too small to be felt by the person taking the medication, research has found.

The Danish researchers found that there may be some doubt as to whether the small effect exists at all.

“We try to have a system in Denmark in which the treatment options we use are evidence-based in some way.

“Our argument here is that the uncertainty is so great that we think we should be saying that we don’t actually know for sure,” Paludan-Müller said.

The researcher recommended that doctors discuss that uncertainty with patients before prescribing antidepressants.

Anders Beich, GP and head of the Danish College of General Practitioners, also advocated a cautious approach.

“We think it’s necessary to be very critical about when to start prescribing antidepressants. It is of no benefit to prescribe medicine to people who have just lost their way for a moment,” Beich said to Ritzau.

“You must have depression before you can expect (medication) to work,” he added.

As such, the central issue may be in correct diagnosis, rather than efficacy of medicine, Beich suggested.

“It is difficult, because many people can have symptoms of depression without having depression,” he said.

More than 400,000 people in Denmark took at least one type of antidepressant in 2017, according to figures from the Danish Health Data Authority (Sundhedsdatastyrelsen).

READ ALSO: Moving to Denmark: The link between international relocation and depression

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New Year’s Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark

The number of people treated for fireworks-related injuries on New Year's Eve in Denmark has bounced back to normal levels, with 16 people treated for eye injuries after the celebrations.

New Year's Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark
Fireworks led to 16 eye injuries on New Year's Eve. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

This is up from the unusually low 12 people who were treated for eye injuries during and after the celebrations last year. Two of this year’s injuries are sufficiently severe that the injured are expected to lose their sight completely or partially.

“After a very quiet evening last year, it is back to a normal, average level,” Ulrik Correll Christensen, head doctor at the ophthalmology department at Rigshospitalet, told the country’s Ritzau newswire. “It is a completely extraordinary situation at the eye departments on New Year’s Eve. It is not at all something we see on a daily basis.” 

Christensen has tallied up reports from all of Denmark’s eye units, including the major ones in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Næstved. 

He said that 15 out of the 16 cases had not worn safety goggles, two thirds were between ten and thirty years old. 

“The most important thing is to follow the advice when firing fireworks. Wear safety goggles and keep a good distance,” he said. 

The number of ambulance call outs on New Year’s Eve is also back to normal, with 1,188 emergency vehicles sent out, compared to 875 last year. 

In the Capital Region of Copenhagen, there were 44 call-outs were related to fireworks, of which 16 were for hand injuries and 14 for eye injuries.