Evolution of Remission as the New Standard in the Treatment of Depression

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Epidemiologic and clinical data support the goal of treating depressed patients to wellness or full remission. Many patients improve but fail to achieve full remission with antidepressant treatment and continue to have residual symptoms, which cause distress and dysfunction. These residual symptoms may meet criteria for subsyndromal and minor depression. Patients who have these milder syndromes after treatment have a greater risk of relapse and recurrence than do those who remain symptom-free. Clinical trials of antidepressants have shown lower rates of remission than of responses that fall short of remission, although some dual-acting antidepressants (e.g., serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) may have higher remission rates than other agents. Treatment with such robust dual-acting antidepressants may result in higher rates of remission and fewer residual symptoms than treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(suppl 22):7-11