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More than Half of Patients Give Up Early On Anti-depression Treatment


Despite recent research that indicates that prescriptions written for antidepressants have doubled in the past decade, a new study has found that more than half of those prescribed the medications give up on their treatment in less than six months.

Only One in Five Properly Completes Treatment

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in 2005, 118 million were for antidepressants. Depression is the fourth leading cause of disability and premature death worldwide, states the World Health Organization.

Read: Depression in US Climbs to One in Ten People

Between 2003 and 2007, researchers from the Catalan Institute of Health (ICS) and the IDIAP Jordi Gol Primary Care Research Institute followed more than 7,500 patients who were started on anti-depression treatments. Catalina Serna, co-author of the study, reports that 56% of patients stopped taking their medication during the first four months, the “acute stage of depression.” Less than 25% of the study participants continued their treatment for a full year.

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Men were more likely to give up treatment early than women. 50% of men gave up their medication after only two months of therapy. The minimum period recommended for treating severe depression is six months.

Depression in itself is a risk factor for medical non-compliance. A research study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that depressed patients do not complete medical treatments because they are looking for immediate results. Side effects from anti-depressants may also be a cause of discontinuing therapy.

Read: New Study Discovers Most Antidepressants Miss Target of Clinical Depression

Patients who are considering cessation of anti-depressant medications should fully discuss symptoms, side effects and alternative therapies with their physicians. MedicalDaily offers the following lifestyle changes that may also be helpful in the management of depression:

• Cultivate supportive relationships with trusted friends and family members.
• Keep up with social activities despite the desire to isolate yourself.
• Join a support group for encouragement and coping advice.
• Maintain a healthful lifestyle including diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
• Minimize stressful situations.

M. Catalina Serna, Inés Cruz, Jordi Real, Eduardo Gascó, Leonardo Galván. "Duration and adherence of anti-depressant treatment (2003 to 2007) based on prescription data base". European Psychiatry , 25 (2010) 206-213, mayo de 2010.