Study: Patience needed withantidepressants

By Marilynn Marchione

Associated Press

The final stage of a landmark federal study on treating depression suggests that two-thirds of sufferers eventually can be helped if they are patient enough to keep trying medications until they find one that works.

Thirteen percent of the 123 study participants who did not get better on the first three drugs they tried were helped by a fourth, researchers found.

But there is a downside to so many attempts: The more tries people made, the more likely it was that they later would relapse and slide back into depression.


"It’s a sobering message when you get down to requiring three or four steps," said the chief researcher, Dr. A. John Rush of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "It says that followup is critical" to make sure that people stay on the drugs, he said.

Results were published today in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

All were started on Celexa, one of a widely used class of drugs called SSRIs. Nearly 37 percent had their depression go into remission after this first try. The rest switched to another antidepressant or continued with Celexa and added a second treatment. This second step helped 31 percent of that group.

The third and fourth attempts brought success rates of 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively. When all results from these various groups of participants were looked at collectively, 67 percent of the total group had been helped by one or more drugs.

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