A brief review of antidepressant efficacy, effectiveness, indications, and usage for major depressive disorder

J Occup Environ Med. 2008 Apr;50(4):428-36. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31816b5034.


Objective: Antidepressants treat major depressive disorder (MDD) with the burden of associated side effects and difficulties with compliance. The purpose of this article is to review the efficacy and effectiveness of antidepressants for MDD.

Methods: The authors conducted a focused review of selected key issues and references relevant to the clinically relevant pharmacologic treatment of MDD. Principles of treatment are reviewed. Antidepressants reviewed include SSRIs, mixed norepinephrine or serotonin uptake inhibitors, dopamine or norepinephrine uptake inhibitors, norepinephrine uptake inhibitors, antidepressants with mixed properties, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Augmentation and psychotherapy strategies are reviewed.

Results: Antidepressant efficacy has been established in randomized clinical trials and effectiveness studies for acute and long-term treatment, but many patients do not achieve remission. Augmentation strategies and focused psychotherapy can be helpful.

Conclusions: Antidepressants help most patients with MDD but some are resistant to treatment and have a difficult long-term course.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents