These guidelines for the treatment of unipolar depressive disorders systematically review available evidence pertaining to the biological treatment of patients with major depression and produce a series of practice recommendations that are clinically and scientifically meaningful based on the available evidence. These guidelines are intended for use by all physicians assessing and treating patients with these conditions. The relevant data have been extracted primarily from various treatment guidelines and panels for depressive disorders, as well as from meta-analyses/reviews on the efficacy of antidepressant medications and other biological treatment interventions identified by a search of the MEDLINE database and Cochrane Library. The identified literature was evaluated with respect to the strength of evidence for its efficacy and was then categorized into five levels of evidence (CE A-F) and five levels of recommendation grades (RG 1-5). This second part of the WFSBP guidelines on depressive disorders covers the management of the maintenance phase treatment, and is primarily concerned with the biological treatment (including pharmacological and hormonal medications, electroconvulsive therapy and other brain stimulation treatments) of adults and also, albeit to a lesser extent, children, adolescents and older adults.
Keywords: antidepressants; guidelines; maintenance treatment; major depressive disorder; pharmacotherapy.