Description: The American College of Physicians developed this guideline to present the available evidence on the pharmacologic management of the acute, continuation, and maintenance phases of major depressive disorder; dysthymia; subsyndromal depression; and accompanying symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, or neurovegetative symptoms, by using second-generation antidepressants.
Methods: Published literature on this topic was identified by using MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsychLit, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts from 1980 to April 2007. Searches were limited to English-language studies in adults older than 19 years of age. Keywords for search included terms for depressive disorders and 12 specific second-generation antidepressants-bupropion, citalopram, duloxetine, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, mirtazapine, nefazodone, paroxetine, sertraline, trazodone, and venlafaxine-and their specific trade names. This guideline grades the evidence and recommendations by using the American College of Physicians clinical practice guidelines grading system. RECOMMENDATION 1: The American College of Physicians recommends that when clinicians choose pharmacologic therapy to treat patients with acute major depression, they select second-generation antidepressants on the basis of adverse effect profiles, cost, and patient preferences (Grade: strong recommendation; moderate-quality evidence). RECOMMENDATION 2: The American College of Physicians recommends that clinicians assess patient status, therapeutic response, and adverse effects of antidepressant therapy on a regular basis beginning within 1 to 2 weeks of initiation of therapy (Grade: strong recommendation; moderate-quality evidence). RECOMMENDATION 3: The American College of Physicians recommends that clinicians modify treatment if the patient does not have an adequate response to pharmacotherapy within 6 to 8 weeks of the initiation of therapy for major depressive disorder (Grade: strong recommendation; moderate-quality evidence). RECOMMENDATION 4: The American College of Physicians recommends that clinicians continue treatment for 4 to 9 months after a satisfactory response in patients with a first episode of major depressive disorder. For patients who have had 2 or more episodes of depression, an even longer duration of therapy may be beneficial (Grade: strong recommendation; moderate-quality evidence).