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, 34 (6), 639-648

Comparing Watchful Waiting With Antidepressants for the Management of Subclinical Depression Symptoms to Mild-Moderate Depression in Primary Care: A Systematic Review

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Comparing Watchful Waiting With Antidepressants for the Management of Subclinical Depression Symptoms to Mild-Moderate Depression in Primary Care: A Systematic Review

Maria Iglesias-González et al. Fam Pract.

Abstract

Background: The benefits of watchful waiting (WW) over antidepressants (ADs) for the treatment of depression in primary care (PC) are unclear.

Objective: We aimed to systematically review the evidence supporting either WW or ADs for the treatment of subclinical depressive symptoms and mild-moderate depression in a PC setting.

Methods: This systematic review was registered at PROSPERO (42016036345). Four electronic sources (EMBASE, PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Knowledge) were systematically searched from inception to November 2016 for controlled trials comparing WW and ADs in PC following established guidelines. The studies had to include adult population with new symptoms of subclinical depression or mild-moderate depression. Patients in the intervention group should receive a WW approach, while patients in the control group underwent treatment with ADs. The abstraction form included information on the setting, characteristics of the study population, total sample size, size of the control and intervention groups and date of the study. Outcome measures and variability were extracted.

Results: The scarcity of studies and the considerable clinical and methodological heterogeneity discouraged us from performing a meta-analysis. Three articles were included and qualitatively synthesized. There was no evidence for the superiority of one treatment option over the other, although two of the studies suggested small differences in favour of ADs when less conservative analyses were conducted (per protocol analysis and analysis not adjusted for missingness predictors).

Conclusions: Superiority was not demonstrated by either treatment option. More robust evidence is needed to inform recommendations for the management of depressive symptoms in PC.

Keywords: Antidepressant medication; depression/mood disorder; mental health; primary care; psychiatry; psychotherapy/counselling.

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