Depression and Bipolar info explaining the latest research in everyday English


Options for mild or moderate depression

The Harvard Mental Health Letter (HMHL) is reporting on the implications of a meta-analysis study into the efficacy of medication for mild, moderate and severe major depression.

[That sounds/reads bizarre, doesn’t it? Surely ‘major’ means that it’s flown past being a ‘mild’ or ‘moderate’ depression… but I digress.]

The study by Fournier et al reduced 2,164 studies to just six worth analysis (by their standards) and found that medication only helps those with severe depression.

There are, of course, limitations with the study – the low number of studies in their meta-analysis being just one, but it does allow the HMHL an opportunity to remind us that exercise, psychotherapy and relaxation are powerful aids in the fight against the black dog for those suffering mild to moderate depression.



Fournier JC, et al. “Antidepressant Drug Effects and Depression Severity: A Patient-Level Meta-Analysis,” Journal of the American Medical Association (Jan. 6, 2010): Vol. 303,
No. 1, pp. 47–53.

Harvard Mental Health Letter, April 2010 –

Please see our medical disclaimer.


Which antidepressant do I take first?

The Harvard Mental Health Letter in its May 2009 issue looks at the issue of choosing which antidepressant may be the best one to begin a pharmacological regime.

Recognising that each different type of antidepressant carries with it different types of possible side-effects, the Letter reports on a large meta-analysis which shows two antidepressants having a slight (emphasis on ’slight’) edge of the rest in terms of efficacy and tolerability.

But that is not to say that side-effects are not to be considered when thinking about which drug with which to start treatment.


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