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Original Research

Initial Rate of Improvement in Relation to Remission of Major Depressive Disorder in Primary Care

Anton C. Vergouwen, MD, PhD; Huibert Burger, MD, PhD; Frank Koerselman, MD, PhD; and Theo J. Verheij, MD, PhD

Published: October 15, 2007

Article Abstract

Objective: In depression treatment, switching treatment after lack of initial improvement, e.g., after 6 weeks, may result in a better outcome. The extent of the lack of initial improvement, as well as the timing of its assessment on the basis of which treatment change may be considered, remains unclear. This study compared the relationships of several grades of symptom improvement after 2 and 6 weeks with remission after 10 weeks in depressed patients treated with antidepressants in primary care.

Method: This was a prospective cohort study, conducted between January 1999 and September 2001 in primary care practices in the Netherlands, of 172 patients starting selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment for major depressive disorder, diagnosed according to DSM-IV criteria. At weeks 2 and 6, patients were classified as unimproved, partially improved, or improved. For each category, we calculated the proportion of remission at week 10. The primary outcome measure was the Beck Depression Inventory.

Results: Of the unimproved or partially improved patients at week 6, 29% (95% CI = 18 to 43) and 27% (95% CI = 17 to 40) attained remission at week 10, respectively.

Conclusion: These data suggest that, in primary care, depression treatment with an SSRI should be reconsidered in depressed patients who are unimproved or partially improved by week 6.

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