Meta-analyses of trials involving psychiatric drugs and medicines used to treat many physical conditions including arthritis have indicated psychiatric drugs are just as effective.
Researchers from the Technishe Universitat Munich in Germany examined 33 meta-analyses of 16 psychiatric drugs used to treat disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD.
The team, led by Professor Stefan Leucht, also studied 94 meta-analyses of 48 medicines used to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic asthma, type 2 diabetes and hepatitis C.
They compared the drugs’ effect sizes, with 0.2 indicating a low effect size, and 0.8 or above a high effect size.
Some general medicines had high effect sizes, such as 1.39 for proton pump inhibitors used to treat acid reflux, and 2.27 for interferon to treat hepatitis C.
But other commonly used drugs such as statins and aspirin had small effect sizes, of 0.15 and 0.12 respectively.
The effect sizes for psychiatric drugs were generally found to be in the same range, with antidepressants and antipsychotics showing respective effect sizes of 0.64 and 0.92.
Professor Leucht said: “Our study shows that the psychiatric drugs were not generally inferior to those used in other medical specialties, and the effectiveness of psychiatric drugs is supported by randomised controlled trials.”