Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 42, S4-8

Clinical Importance of Long-Term Antidepressant Treatment


Clinical Importance of Long-Term Antidepressant Treatment

R M Hirschfeld. Br J Psychiatry Suppl.


Background: Depression, which only a few decades ago was considered to be a short-term illness requiring short-term treatment, is now recognised as a recurrent, sometimes chronic, long-term illness.

Aims: To highlight the clinical importance of long-term antidepressant therapy in the treatment of depression.

Method: The current literature was reviewed to examine the relationship between duration of antidepressant therapy and efficacy.

Results: Approximately one-third to a half of patients successfully stabilised in acute-phase treatment will relapse if medication is not sustained throughout the continuation period. Only 10-15% will relapse if medication is continued. For maintenance-phase therapy, approximately 60% of patients at risk will experience a recurrent episode of depression within 1 year if untreated, whereas those who continue in treatment will have a recurrence rate of between 10% and 30%.

Conclusions: Risk of relapse and recurrence of depression can be significantly reduced if adequate continuation and maintenance therapy durations are achieved.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 9 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types


LinkOut - more resources