Study sheds light on beating the blues


It takes six to seven weeks of treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) before patients reach a remission of their depressive symptoms. Also, patients who are well educated, employed, married, white, female, and with few complicating problems are associated with a better antidepressant response than patients who have a co-occurring anxiety, substance abuse or physical disorders, and a lower quality of life. These are some findings from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) Study, published in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health, the study is the largest and longest study ever undertaken to evaluate the treatment of depression. The study enrolled more than 4,000 outpatients who are from 18 to 75 years old across the country. The SSRI used in the study was citalopram (Celexa, Forest Pharmaceuticals). The authors of the study concluded that to achieve remission, some patients may need to stay in treatment longer and take somewhat higher antidepressant dosages.

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