Antidepressants should be prescribed less routinely by doctors, scientists have said, after a study concluded there was no strong evidence that the drugs were effective.
New research has indicated the side effects many patients suffer from the treatment may be disproportionate to the benefits it gives them.
Analysis of trial data did not establish any "clinically relevant" difference between volunteers given antidepressants and a group given a placebo, according to a review published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin.
The researchers, from University College London and Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, warned that "we should revisit the widespread – and growing – prescription of antidepressants", The Times reported.
It comes after new NHS guidance was drawn up to tell doctors not to offer antidepressants to those with mild illness and instead suggest meditation, mindfulness and talking therapies.
England has one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world, with one in seven estimated to be taking the pills. More than 79 million antidepressant drugs were prescribed in England 2020-21, up from 43million in a decade.