Prospective study of antidepressant treatment of psychiatric patients with depressive disorders: treatment adequacy and outcomes

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Background: Despite numerous national depression care guidelines (DCGs), suboptimal antidepressant treatment may occur. We examined DCG concordance and depression treatment outcomes in psychiatric settings. Methods: We evaluated treatment received and outcomes of 128 psychiatric out- and inpatients participating in the PEGAD (Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacogenetics of Antidepressant Treatment for Depressive Disorders) study at baseline, two weeks, and eight weeks using interviews and questionnaires. Inclusion criteria were ICD-10 diagnosis of a depressive disorder, a Patient Health Questionnaire-9 symptom (PHQ-9) score ≥ 10, and a new antidepressant prescribed. The primary outcome of the study was within-individual change in PHQ-9 scores. Results: At baseline, patients had predominately recurrent (83%) and in 19% treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The median preceding duration of the current episode was 6.5 months. At eight weeks, 85% of the patients (n = 107) used a DCG-concordant antidepressant dose. However, due to the scarcity of antidepressant combinations and augmentations, fewer TRD than non-TRD patients (25% vs. 84%, p < 0.005) received adequate antidepressant treatment. Additionally, one-third of the patients received inadequate follow-up. Overall, only 53% received treatment compatible with DCG recommendations for adequate pharmacotherapy and follow-up. The mean decline in PHQ-9 scores (-3.8 ± SD 5.7) was significant (p < 0.0005). Nearly 40% of the patients reached a subthreshold level of depression (PHQ-9 < 10), predicted by a lower baseline PHQ-9 score, recurrent depression, and female sex. However, 45% experienced no significant clinical improvement (PHQ-9 score reduction < 20%). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that inadequate treatment continues to occur in psychiatric care settings, particularly for TRD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number888
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Fields of Science

  • Antidepressant
  • Depression
  • Psychiatric care
  • Treatment adequacy
  • Treatment outcome
  • 3124 Neurology and psychiatry

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