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Unmet Need: What Justifies the Search for a New Antidepressant?

John F. Greden, MD

Published: February 1, 2002

Article Abstract

The burden of major depressive disorder is huge, as is clearly documented by World Health Organizationdata. A major component of this burden is the episodic nature of depression. Depressive episodesmay be precipitated by stress and if left untreated can become episodic, recurrent, and chronic.Hippocampal atrophy may be a consequence of chronic depression, but antidepressants and moodstabilizers have been suggested to prevent or reverse this damage. Adequate treatment is essentialfor preventing depression from becoming chronic. Unfortunately, current antidepressant treatmentsfall short of being adequate for many patients. Shortcomings such as low remission/high treatment-resistancerates, slow onset of action, side effects, and drug-drug interactions influence patient adherence,which may be as low as 56% after the first 3 months of treatment. Since many patients may needlong-term antidepressant treatment, new antidepressants need to be developed that are effective, tolerable,and safe and that improve maintenance of wellness.

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