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Centre for Evidence-
Based Medicine

Dysthymia: Antidepressants are effective

Clinical Bottom Line

Antidepressants are effective in the treatment of dysthymia.


Lima M, Moncrieff J. Drugs versus placebo for dysthymia (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 1999. Oxford: Update Software.

Clinical Question

In an adult with dysthymia, are antidepressants effective in lifting mood?

Search Terms

'dysthymia' in The Cochrane Library

The Study

Systematic review of trials of any antidepressant versus placebo. Extensive search for literature. Rigorous appraisal of validity of individual studies.

The Evidence

  • 15 RCTs, including trials of TCAs, SSRIs, MAOIs, and other drugs.
  • Outcome: no treatment response
CER EER ARR (95% CIs) NNT (95% CIs)
TCAs 0.68 0.45 0.23 (0.31, 0.16) 4.3 (3.3, 6.5)
MAOIs 0.78 0.45 0.33 (0.22, 0.43) 3.1 (2.3, 4.5)
SSRIs 0.61 0.39 0.22 (0.15, 0.28) 4.7 (3.5, 6.9)

Appraised By

Price, 1999

Expiry Date