Rationale: Treatment guidelines for major depressive disorder (MDD) recommend a continuous use of antidepressants for several weeks, while recent meta-analyses indicate that antidepressant efficacy starts to appear within 2 weeks and early treatment nonresponse is a predictor of subsequent nonresponse.
Objectives: We prospectively compared 8-week outcomes between switching antidepressants and maintaining the same antidepressant in early nonresponders, to generate a hypothesis on possible benefits of early switching strategy.
Method: Patients with MDD without any treatment history for the current episode were included. When subjects failed to show an early response (i.e., ≥20% improvement in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS)) to the initial treatment with sertraline 50mg at week 2, they were randomly divided into two groups; in the Continuing group, sertraline was titrated at 50-100mg, whereas sertraline was switched to paroxetine 20-40 mg in the Switching group. A primary outcome measure was a response rate (i.e., ≥50% improvement in the MADRS) at week 8.
Results: Among 132 subjects, 41 subjects showed early nonresponse. The Switching group (n=20) showed a higher rate of responders than the Continuing group (n=21) (75% vs. 19%: p=0.002). Further, the Switching group was also superior in the rate of remitters (total score of ≤10 in the MADRS) (60% vs. 14%: p=0.004) and continuous changes in the MADRS (19.0 vs. 7.5: p<0.001).
Conclusions: Our preliminary findings suggest that patients with MDD who fail to show early response to an initial antidepressant may derive benefits from the early switching antidepressants in the acute-phase treatment of depression.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.