January 23, 2012

Less is More When Treating Depression

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Antidepressants found to be effective on comorbid major depressive disorder

(dailyRx News) Many people with depression also suffer from a variety of other diseases. A new study looked at how depression medications impacted other health conditions.

Researchers find the use of escitalopram, bupropion-SR, venlafaxine, and mirtazapine to be as safe and effective for patients with multiple (co-morbid) health issues.

"Always report side effects of medications to your doctor."

“Patients with general medical conditions can be safely and effectively treated for major depressive disorder with antidepressants with no additional adverse effect or tolerability burden relative to their counterparts without such conditions,” explains David Morris, Ph.D., corresponding author on the study and professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern.

Investigators on the study noted that this assessment was particularly challenging because symptoms of general medical conditions—such as low energy, sleep disturbances, appetite/weight fluctuations, stress, and emotional discomfort—overlap with symptoms of major depression.  

The study involved an analysis of 665 patients with chronic and/or recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD).

A twenty-eight week, placebo-controlled trial tested the use of three antidepressants: (1) escitalopram coupled with a placebo, (2) bupropion-SR coupled with escitalopram, and (3) venlafaxine-XR coupled with mirtazapine.

Of all participants, roughly fifty percent reported at least one additional general medical condition.

“We found only minimal differences in antidepressant treatment response between these groups having different numbers of conditions; patients with 3 or more conditions reported higher rates of impairment in social and occupational functioning at week 12 but not at week 28,” Dr. Morris notes.

“Additionally, we found no significant differences between the 3 antidepressant treatments across these groups.

Findings additionally suggest that combination therapy, or the practice of prescribing multiple antidepressants, does not increase response rates.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
January 12, 2012

Last Updated:
January 23, 2012