A survey of prescribing practices in the treatment of depression

Depression Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.69). 02/2002; 26(1):177-87. DOI: 10.1016/S0278-5846(01)00250-0
Source: PubMed


With the increasing number and type of antidepressants available to clinicians, there is a need to better understand current prescribing practices and to what degree these practices reflect research findings. The purpose of this study was to examine prescribing practices in a sample of psychiatrists attending a psychopharmacology review course and compare these results with empirical evidence.
439 of 800 clinicians asked (55%) responded to a 10-item questionnaire that was given prior to beginning the review course. Items covered three major content areas: first-line preferences in the treatment of depression, antidepressant agents most associated with certain side effects, and first-line preferences in the treatment of certain depressive subtypes.
214 (49%) clinicians indicated a belief that one antidepressant type is more efficacious than others. Of these 214 clinicians, 103 (48%) indicated selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) as being most efficacious, while 53 (25%) indicated venlafaxine as being most efficacious; 378 (93%) clinicians indicated SSRIs as their first-line treatment preference. Mirtazapine (56%) was endorsed as most likely to be associated with weight gain, fluoxetine (57%) with sexual dysfunction, paroxetine (48%) with a discontinuation syndrome, and fluoxetine (52%) with agitation. For the treatment of anxious, atypical, and melancholic depression, SSRIs were the first choice of treatment (58%, 57%, and 57%), and for depression with prominent insomnia, mirtazapine and nefazadone (31% and 27%) were the first choices of treatment.
Despite the lack of evidence of a significant difference in efficacy between older and newer agents, clinicians perceive the newer agents to be more efficacious than the older drugs [tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)] even in the melancholic and anxious depressive subtypes. Similarly, although sexual dysfunction and agitation appear to occur at similar rates with all the SSRIs, fluoxetine was perceived to be most likely to cause these side effects. These findings are significant as they highlight the discrepancy between empirical evidence and clinical practices and suggest that other factors influence clinicians' medication choices in the treatment of depression.

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    • "How widespread is methylphenidate + SSRI co-exposure resulting from pharmacological treatments or cognitive enhancer use? SSRIs such as fluoxetine are often the first-line treatment for several depressive and anxiety disorders [62] and are given to millions of patients in the United States alone every year. As discussed, methylphenidate is used both in the treatment of conditions such as ADHD and as a recreational drug and cognitive enhancer [2] [4] [5]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Use of psychostimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) in medical treatments and as cognitive enhancers in the healthy is increasing. Methylphenidate produces some addiction-related gene regulation in animal models. Recent findings show that combining selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as fluoxetine with methylphenidate potentiates methylphenidate-induced gene regulation. We investigated the endurance of such abnormal gene regulation by assessing an established marker for altered gene regulation after drug treatments – blunting (repression) of immediate-early gene (IEG) inducibility – 14 days after repeated methylphenidate + fluoxetine treatment in adolescent rats. Thus, we measured the effects of a 6-day repeated treatment with methylphenidate (5 mg/kg), fluoxetine (5 mg/kg) or their combination on the inducibility (by cocaine) of neuroplasticity-related IEGs (Zif268, Homer1a) in the striatum, by in situ hybridization histochemistry. Repeated methylphenidate treatment alone produced modest gene blunting, while fluoxetine alone had no effect. In contrast, fluoxetine given in conjunction with methylphenidate produced pronounced potentiation of methylphenidate-induced blunting for both genes. This potentiation was seen in many functional domains of the striatum, but was most robust in the lateral, sensorimotor striatum. These enduring molecular changes were associated with potentiated induction of behavioral stereotypies in an open-field test. For illicit psychostimulants, blunting of gene expression is considered part of the molecular basis of addiction. Our results thus suggest that SSRIs such as fluoxetine may increase the addiction liability of methylphenidate.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Basal Ganglia
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    • "Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are widely used in the treatment of depressive disorders (Petersen et al., 2002; Chaudhry et al., 2011) and anxiety disorders (van der Linden et al., 2000; Hedges et al., 2007). Total SSRI prescription volume increased threefold between 1995/1996 and 2006/2007 (Lockhart and Guthrie, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Besides demonstrated efficacy, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) hold other advantages over earlier antidepressants such as greater tolerability and a wider range of clinical applications. However, there is a growing body of clinical evidence which suggests that SSRIs could, in some cases, be associated with a withdrawal reaction upon cessation of regular use. In addition to sensory and gastrointestinal-related symptoms, the somatic symptoms of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome include dizziness, lethargy, and sleep disturbances. Psychological symptoms have also been documented, usually developing within 1-7 days following SSRI discontinuation. The characteristics of the discontinuation syndrome have been linked to the half-life of a given SSRI, with a greater number of reports emerging from paroxetine compared to other SSRIs. However, many aspects of the neurobiology of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome (or SSRI withdrawal syndrome) remain unresolved. Following a comprehensive overview of the clinical evidence, we will discuss the underlying pathophysiology of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome and comment on the use of animal models to better understand this condition.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Frontiers in Pharmacology
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    • "In routine outpatient settings, augmentation is generally a much less common strategy, particularly in primary care settings. A survey of clinicians suggested that substantial variation exists in their preference for treatment sequence(Petersen et al., 2002), perhaps because other prior to STAR*D there was little controlled data bearing on the efficacy of augmentation in general(Fava, 2001). "
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    ABSTRACT: The potential of personalized medicine to transform the treatment of mood disorders has been widely touted in psychiatry, but has not been quantified. We estimated the costs and benefits of a putative pharmacogenetic test for antidepressant response in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) from the societal perspective. Specifically, we performed cost-effectiveness analyses using state-transition probability models incorporating probabilities from the multicenter STAR*D effectiveness study of MDD. Costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) were compared for sequential antidepressant trials, with or without guidance from a pharmacogenetic test for differential response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Likely SSRI responders received an SSRI, whereas likely nonresponders received the norepinephrine/dopamine reuptake inhibitor bupropion. For a 40-year old with MDD, applying the pharmacogenetic test and using the non-SSRI bupropion for those at higher risk for nonresponse cost $93,520 per additional QALY compared with treating all patients with an SSRI first and switching sequentially in the case of nonremission. Cost per QALY dropped below $50,000 for tests with remission rate ratios as low as 1.5, corresponding to odds ratios approximately 1.8-2.0. Tests for differential antidepressant response could thus become cost effective under certain circumstances. These circumstances, particularly availability of alternative treatment strategies and test effect sizes, can be estimated and should be considered before these tests are broadly applied in clinical settings.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2009 · Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
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