New research shows that only 33% of people being treated for depression with an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) receive relief from their symptoms within the first three months. The Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression, or STAR*D study, which spanned six years and is the largest of its kind, followed 4,000 people throughout the country with major depressive symptoms. The most common symptoms present in the test subjects were sadness, suicidal thoughts, changes in sleep patterns, appetite and weight, concentration, outlook and energy.
Dr. Shawn McClintock, assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the analysis, studied the data and found that insomnia, sadness, decreased concentration and decision-making problems persisted for more than half of the participants. “Widely used antidepressant medications, while working overall, missed these symptoms. If patients have persistent residual symptoms, these individuals have a high probability of incomplete recovery,” McClintock said in a recent article.
More than 19 million Americans suffer from depression each year. Most are at an increased risk for other illnesses including diabetes, obesity, asthma and heart disease. Annually, this mental health issue costs the country nearly $83 billion. Finding effective treatment regimens and therapies is vitally important to those who struggle with this illness, as well as the country as a whole. Dr. McClintock believes this new data will lead to more research focusing on the development of more antidepressant therapies that better address these symptoms.
In related article, Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern, co-principal investigator of STAR*D and an author on this paper said, “Our findings do suggest that the use of measurement-based care techniques to identify and target residual depressive symptoms is essential to help patients return to normal function and recover from depression in the long term.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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