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Approaches to the Enhancement of Patient Adherence to Antidepressant Medication Treatment

Pedro L. Delgado, MD

Published: February 28, 2000

Article Abstract

The number of safe and effective medication treatments for depression has increased significantlyover the past 10 years. Relative to the older tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors,the newer medications offer comparable efficacy with fewer side effects and a markedly reducedrisk for serious adverse effects. In spite of these benefits, and in spite of the extensive and successfulefforts that have been made to inform the general population about the diagnosis and treatment of depression,many patients do not comply with treatment recommendations. Although specific factorssuch as side effects lead to high rates of noncompliance with medication treatment, noncompliance isa multifactorial phenomenon. The reasons for noncompliance can include rational and intentional decisionsbased on beliefs about the illness, concerns over side effects, ineffectiveness of treatment,costs of the medication, decisions influenced by the symptoms of the disorder, and many other culturaland attitudinal factors. Some of the important concepts that should be addressed with depressedpatients are reviewed. Strategies aimed at informing patients about depression and its treatment andproviding a collaborative treatment environment have the potential to significantly improve treatmentoutcome and treatment adherence.

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