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Beneficial and harmful effects of antidepressants versus placebo, 'active placebo', or no intervention for adults with major depressive disorder: a protocol for a systematic review of published and unpublished data with meta-analyses and trial sequential analyses

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BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder is one of the most common, burdensome, and costly psychiatric disorders worldwide. Antidepressants are frequently used to treat major depressive disorder. It has been shown repeatedly that antidepressants seem to reduce depressive symptoms with a statistically significant effect, but the clinical importance of the effect sizes seems questionable. Both beneficial and harmful effects of antidepressants have not previously been sufficiently assessed. The main objective of this review will be to evaluate the beneficial and harmful effects of antidepressants versus placebo, 'active placebo', or no intervention for adults with major depressive disorder.

METHODS/DESIGN: A systematic review with meta-analysis will be reported as recommended by Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA), bias will be assessed with the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool-version 2 (ROB2), our eight-step procedure will be used to assess if the thresholds for clinical significance are crossed, Trial Sequential Analysis will be conducted to control for random errors, and the certainty of the evidence will be assessed with the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. To identify relevant trials, we will search both for published and unpublished trials in major medical databases from their inception to the present. Clinical study reports will be obtained from regulatory authorities and pharmaceutical companies. Two review authors will independently screen the results of the literature searches, extract data, and perform risk of bias assessment. We will include any published or unpublished randomised clinical trial comparing one or more antidepressants with placebo, 'active placebo', or no intervention for adults with major depressive disorder. The following active agents will be included: agomelatine, amineptine, amitriptyline, bupropion, butriptyline, cianopramine, citalopram, clomipramine, dapoxetine, demexiptiline, desipramine, desvenlafaxine, dibenzepin, dosulepin, dothiepin, doxepin, duloxetine, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, imipramine, iprindole, levomilnacipran, lofepramine, maprotiline, melitracen, metapramine, milnacipran, mirtazapine, nefazodone, nortriptyline, noxiptiline, opipramol, paroxetine, protriptyline, quinupramine, reboxetine, sertraline, trazodone, tianeptine, trimipramine, venlafaxine, vilazodone, and vortioxetine. Primary outcomes will be depressive symptoms, serious adverse events, and quality of life. Secondary outcomes will be suicide or suicide attempt, suicidal ideation, and non-serious adverse events.

DISCUSSION: As antidepressants are commonly used to treat major depressive disorder in adults, a systematic review evaluating their beneficial and harmful effects is urgently needed. This review will inform best practice in treatment and clinical research of this highly prevalent and burdensome disorder.

SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42020220279.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154
JournalSystematic Reviews
Volume10
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)154
ISSN2046-4053
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2021

    Research areas

  • Adult, Antidepressive Agents/adverse effects, Depressive Disorder, Major/drug therapy, Humans, Meta-Analysis as Topic, Quality of Life, Systematic Reviews as Topic, Vortioxetine/therapeutic use

ID: 67052234