How Fast Are Antidepressants?
J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61:712-721
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
Purchase This PDF for $40.00
If you are not a paid subscriber, you may purchase the PDF.
(You'll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
Receive immediate full-text access to JCP. You can subscribe to JCP online-only ($86) or print + online ($156 individual).
With your subscription, receive a free PDF collection of the NCDEU Festschrift articles. Hurry! This offer ends December 31, 2011.
If you are a paid subscriber to JCP and do not yet have a username and password, activate your subscription now.
As a paid subscriber who has activated your subscription, you have access to the HTML and PDF versions of this item.
Click here to login.
Did you forget your password?
Still can't log in? Contact the Circulation Department at 1-800-489-1001 x4 or send email
Background: For years, investigators have
tried to determine the speed of onset of antidepressant drugs.
Claims that particular drugs may produce a faster response in
patients than other agents have been made, but such claims have
never been confirmed.
Method: The authors reviewed reports from
studies of the speed of onset of antidepressant therapies and
other studies that revealed information on this topic. We
compiled a list of factors that can affect the results of such
studies and interpretations of study results. In addition, we
reviewed literature concerned with methods of speeding up
Results: No antidepressant medication currently
available has been shown conclusively to have a more rapid onset
of action than any other. However, some methods of augmentation
may have the potential to speed responses. Somatic therapies such
as electroconvulsive therapy, phototherapy, and therapeutic sleep
deprivation may be the fastest options available at this time.
Conclusion: All available antidepressant
medications are usually taken for several weeks before future
responders will display a significant therapeutic benefit. If a
patient does not show at least a 20% improvement within the first
2 to 4 weeks of treatment, the treatment regimen should be
altered. For patients who do show early benefits from a
medication trial, one can expect additional benefits to accrue
over an 8- to 12-week period and to improve overall outcome
compared with those slower to respond. Future trials need to
address methodological confounds, but a truly "faster
antidepressant" will probably require new neuroscience