Table 2

Characteristics of included systematic reviews

ReviewRisk of biasYears covered by searchesEligible study designsPopulationInterventionControlK relevant studies,
N analysed
Abbass 201440 LowNR to July 2012RCTsAdults, ≥18 years of age, with common mental disorders, allowed comorbid medical or psychiatric disorders (relevant study of African American women, 20–50 years of age, with depression)Psychodynamic therapies (short term)Inactive treatment
Reduction: K=1, n=20
Al-Karawi 201645 MediumNR to December 2015RCTsPatients with non-seasonal depression diagnosed by standardised depression scalesBright light therapyInactive treatment (placebo device and pill-placebo)Reduction: K=1, n=62
Discontinuation (overall): K=1, n=62
Discontinuation (adverse events): K=1, n=62
Apaydin 201646 MediumJanuary 2007 to November 2014RCTsAdults, ≥18 years of age, with a diagnosis of MDDSt John’s wortInactive treatment
Reduction: K=16, n=2888
Appleton 201532 LowAll years to May 2015 (except CINAHL, to September 2013)RCTs, cross-over and cluster RCTsAdults, ≥18 years of age, with a primary diagnosis of MDD or unipolar depressive disorder, allowed comorbid conditionsOmega-3 fatty acids (n-3PUFAs)Inactive treatment
Reduction: K=6, n=308
Discontinuation (overall): K=7, n=446
Cujipers 201441 Medium1966 to January 2012RCTsAdults diagnosed with a depressive disorder, allowed comorbid medical or psychiatric disordersHumanistic therapy (supportive therapy)Inactive treatment
Reduction: K=1, n=101
Integrative therapy (interpersonal therapy)Inactive treatment
Reduction: K=1, n=33
Ekers 201439 High1966 to January 2013RCTsAdults, ≥16 years of age, with a primary diagnosis of depressionThird Wave CBT (behavioural activation therapy)Inactive treatment (waitlist, placebo)Reduction: K=9, n=338
Furukawa 201747 MediumNR to January 2015RCTsAdults with MDD, diagnosed according to DSM or ICD-10CBTInactive treatment
Reduction: K=5, n=509
Galizia 201648 MediumNR to February 2016RCTsAdults, aged 18–80 years with a diagnosis of major depressionSAMeInactive treatment
Reduction: K=2, n=142
Discontinuation (overall): K=2, n=142
Discontinuation (adverse events): K=1, n=124
Gartlehner 201544 MediumJanuary 1990 to September 2015RCTs, allowed non-randomised studies for harmsAdults, ≥19 years of age, with MDD during initial treatment attempt or second treatment attempt among those who did not achieve remission after treatment with an SGAAcupunctureSGAResponse: K=93 (NWMA), n=173
CBTSGAResponse: K=5, n=660
ExerciseSGAResponse: K=90 (NWMA), n=0
Integrative therapy (interpersonal psychotherapy)SGAResponse: K=1, n=318
Omega-3 fatty acidsSGAResponse: K=92 (NWMA), n=40
SAMeSGAResponse: K=90 (NWMA), n=0
St John’s wortSGAResponse: K=9, n=1517
Third Wave CBT (Behavioural activation)SGAResponse: K=2, n=243
SGAInactive treatment
Reduction: K=62, n=13 759
Josefsson 201436 HighNR to April 2012RCTsAdults, ≥18 years of age, with depression or depressive symptomsExercise (aerobic or non-aerobic exercise, as monotherapy or with usual care, excluding eastern meditative practices)Inactive treatment
(no treatment, placebo)
Reduction: K=11, n=368
Jun 201434 MediumNR to February 2014RCTs, quasi-RCTsIndividuals of any age and either sex with depression, allowed comorbid diseasesGan Mai Da Zao
(decoction or modified decoction)
SGAResponse: K=3, n=148
Linde 201534 MediumNR to December 2013RCTsAdults with prevalent or incident unipolar depressive disorderSt John’s wortInactive treatment
Discontinuation (overall): K=4, n=619
Discontinuation (adverse events): K=3, n=522
TCAInactive treatment
Discontinuation (overall): K=4, n=484
Discontinuation (adverse events): K=3, n=421
SGAInactive treatment
Discontinuation (overall): K=5, n=1195
Discontinuation (adverse events): K=6, n=1572
Liu 201537 HighNR to February 2014RCTsOlder adults, mean age ≥60 years, with depressive symptoms, and allowed comorbiditiesTai Chi, QigongInactive treatment (newspaper reading or reading and discussion group, health education)Reduction: K=3, n=193
Okumura, 201438 High1994 to June 2013RCTs, cluster RCTs, quasi-RCTsAdults, ≥18 years of age, with depression (elevated depressive symptoms, depressive disorders or minor depression), allowed comorbid physical illnessCBT (group CBT, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy)Inactive treatment
(waitlist, pill-placebo)
Discontinuation (overall): K=7, n=834
Sorbero 201533 MediumNR to January 2015RCTsAdults, ≥18 years of age, with a clinical diagnosis of MDD at enrolment or formerly depressed if primary outcome of study was depression relapse or recurrenceAcupuncture (specific, needle or electroacupuncture)Inactive treatment (non-specific acupuncture)Reduction: K=3, n=168
Taylor 201443 MediumNR to March 2013RCTsAdults with depressionAgomelatineInactive treatment
Reduction: K=12, n=3855
Undurraga 201235 High1980 to August 2011RCTsAdults in an acute, apparently unipolar MDD episode or with ≤10% identified cases of bipolar depression or diagnoses other than MDDTCAInactive treatment
Reduction: K=21, n=3094
Van Marwijk 201242 LowAll years to February 2012RCTsAdults, ≥18 years of age, with a primary diagnosis of MDD, a depressive episode, or if considered depressed and eligible for antidepressant treatment by a clinicianAlprazolamInactive treatment
K=5, n=603
Yeung 201430 MediumNR to May 2013RCTs, quasi-RCTsIndividuals diagnosed with depressionChinese herbal medicineSGAResponse: K=5, n=1360
Inactive treatment
Reduction: K=2, n=171
SaffronSGAResponse: K=1, n=38
Inactive treatment
Reduction: K=2, n=80
Discontinuation (overall): K=2, n=80
  • CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy; K, number of studies that were eligible for review of reviews; MDD, major depressive disorder; N, number of participants in eligible studies; NR, not reported; NWMA, network meta-analysis; n-3PUFA, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid; RCT, randomised control trial; SGA, second-generation antidepressant; TCA, tricyclic antidepressants.