Can people with nonsevere major depression benefit from antidepressant medication?

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.14). 12/2011; 73(4):518-25. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.10m06760
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Several meta- or mega-analyses suggest antidepressant medications should be given only to severely depressed patients. In our experience, mild depression benefits from medication. We reanalyzed 1 clinic's randomized placebo-controlled antidepressant studies, limiting analyses to patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) without severe illness, to determine whether nonsevere depression responds to antidepressant medication.
Archives of the Depression Evaluation Service outpatient clinic of the New York State Psychiatric Institute were searched for randomized, placebo-controlled antidepressant studies that were conducted between 1977 and 2009 and included patients having MDD and pretreatment Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) scores < 23.
Six placebo-controlled studies were found, including 8 active treatment arms and 1,440 patients. 825 patients were randomized and had MDD and an HDRS score < 23. DSM-III, DSM-III-R, or DSM-IV diagnostic criteria contemporary to each study were employed.
Treatments were compared within study and via a patient-level meta-analysis using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) of HDRS end point scores adjusted for pretreatment score. The number needed to treat (NNT) was calculated from remission rates (HDRS end point score ≤ 7), which were compared by χ². Effect sizes were calculated from change in HDRS scores. Secondary analyses investigated the effect of chronicity and atypical features on treatment response.
Three of 6 studies showed significant (P < .001) treatment effects by ANCOVA, and 4 of 6 studies showed significant (P < .04) differences in remission. The NNT ranged from 3 to 8. Effect sizes ranged from -0.04 to 0.8, with 4 of 8 greater than 0.4. The patient-level meta-analysis confirmed these results; neither chronicity nor atypical features significantly affected outcome. Secondary analyses utilizing global ratings and self-report mimicked the main findings.
Several studies demonstrated significant antidepressant efficacy for patients having nonsevere MDD. Efficacy was not trivial, as NNT ranged from 3 to 8, a range accepted by researchers as sufficiently robust to recommend treatment. These findings suggest mild-moderate MDD can benefit from antidepressants, contrary to findings by several other meta- or mega-analyses.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE The study objective was to assess the efficacy of problem-solving therapy for primary care (PST-PC) for preventing episodes of major depression and mitigating depressive symptoms of older black and white adults. The comparison group received dietary coaching. METHODS A total of 247 participants (90 blacks, 154 whites, and three Asians) with subsyndromal depressive symptoms were recruited into a randomized depression prevention trial that compared effects of individually delivered PST-PC and dietary coaching on time to major depressive episode and level of depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory) over two years. Cumulative intervention time averaged 5.5-6.0 hours in each study arm. RESULTS The two groups did not differ significantly in time to major depressive episodes, and incidence of such episodes was low (blacks, N=8, 9%; whites, N=13, 8%), compared with published rates of 20%-25% over one year among persons with subsyndromal symptoms and receiving care as usual. Participants also showed a mean decrease of 4 points in depressive symptoms, sustained over two years. Despite greater burden of depression risk factors among blacks, no significant differences from whites were found in the primary outcome. CONCLUSIONS Both PST-PC and dietary coaching are potentially effective in protecting older black and white adults with subsyndromal depressive symptoms from developing episodes of major depression over two years. Absent a control for concurrent usual care, this conclusion is preliminary. If confirmed, both interventions hold promise as scalable, safe, nonstigmatizing interventions for delaying or preventing episodes of major depression in the nation's increasingly diverse older population.
    Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) 03/2014; 65(6). DOI:10.1176/ · 1.99 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Vilazodone is a potent selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and serotonin 1A receptor partial agonist approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults. To assess the efficacy of vilazodone across a range of symptoms and severities of depression, data from two phase III, 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials were pooled for analysis. Overall improvement in depressive symptoms measured using the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale was statistically significant (P<0.05) for vilazodone treatment compared with placebo as early as Week 1 and continued throughout double-blind treatment. Vilazodone treatment compared with placebo showed significant improvement on all 10 individual MADRS symptom items at end of treatment (P<0.01). Rates of response and remission were significantly greater in the vilazodone group relative to the placebo group, with numbers needed to treat ranging from eight to nine for response and 12-17 for remission. Between-group treatment differences in MADRS and the other outcome measures were similar among all depression subgroups, with no consistent pattern associated with depression severity. These findings support the efficacy of vilazodone across a broad range of depressive symptoms and severities for the treatment of major depressive disorder.
    International clinical psychopharmacology 11/2013; 29(2). DOI:10.1097/YIC.0000000000000016 · 3.10 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Depression is a potentially life-threatening disorder affecting millions of people across the globe. It is a huge burden to both the individual and society, costing over £9 billion in 2000 alone: the World Health Organisation (WHO) cited it as the third leading cause of global disability in 2004 (first in the developed world), and project it will be the leading cause by 2030. The serendipitous discovery of antidepressants has revolutionized both our understanding and management of depression: however, their efficacy in the treatment of depression has long been debated and recently been brought very much into the public limelight by a controversial publication by Kirsch, in which the role of placebo response in antidepressant efficacy trials is highlighted. Whilst antidepressants offer benefits in both the short and long term, important problems persist such as intolerability, delayed therapeutic onset, limited efficacy in milder depression and the existence of treatment-resistant depression.
    Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology 10/2012; 2(5):179-88. DOI:10.1177/2045125312445469 · 1.53 Impact Factor