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Quest For A Better Antidepressant

pillsDespite the prevalence of depression, and in spite of the range of medications now available, major depression remains a challenging disease to treat.

A report in the August 2008 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter states that only about half of adult patients respond to the first antidepressant they try, with only one-third achieving remission. Most adults will try two or more medications before finding one that alleviates their depression.

When the first antidepressant doesn’t provide adequate relief, patients and their clinicians face a challenging decision. Although two broad strategies exist—switching to a new drug or augmenting the first drug with a second—it hasn’t been clear which is best.

Over the past few years, new research has helped fill this gap in knowledge. The Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, the largest prospective study of successive treatment options ever conducted, looked directly at the question of what to do when the first medication fails.

STAR*D results indicate that either switching medications or adding a second drug is equally effective. The study also showed that, with persistent trial and error, nearly seven in 10 adult patients with major depression will eventually find a treatment that works.

Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, notes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when a first antidepressant fails to alleviate symptoms, because individuals vary so greatly in their response to medications. But as researchers identify and test additional treatment options, they hope to improve the odds of success.

Source: Harvard Health Publications

Quest For A Better Antidepressant

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Quest For A Better Antidepressant. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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