Epidemiology of treatment resistant depression among major depressive disorder patients in Israel

BMC Psychiatry. 2022 Aug 11;22(1):541. doi: 10.1186/s12888-022-04184-8.


Introduction: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental disorders worldwide, estimated to affect 10-15% of the population per year. Treatment resistant depression (TRD) is estimated to affect a third of these patients who show difficulties in social and occupational function, decline of physical health, suicidal thoughts and increased health care utilization. We describe the prevalence of MDD, TRD and associated healthcare resource utilization in Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS), a 2.5 million-member state-mandated health service in Israel.

Methods: All MHS members with an MDD diagnosis were identified within the years 2017-2018 and prevalence assessed by age, sex and TRD. To assess the incidence of MDD, members aged 18-65 years at the start of any MDD episode were identified between 1st January 2016 and 31st May 2018 with at least one systemic first-line antidepressant treatment within three months before or after the initial episode. Treatment patterns, time on first-line treatment, and healthcare resource utilization were compared by TRD.

Results: A total of 4960 eligible MDD patients were identified (median age = 51 years, 65% female), representing a period prevalence of 0.218%, and of those, a high proportion of patients received drug treatment (92%). Among incident MDD cases (n = 2553), 24.4% had TRD. Factors associated with TRD included increasing age and personality disorder. Median time on treatment was 3.7 months (longer for those without TRD than those with) and 81.9% of patients purchased more than one month's supply of therapy. In the year after index, patients with TRD had a significant increased number of visits to primary care physicians, psychiatrists, emergency room visits, general hospitalizations, and psychiatric hospitalizations.

Conclusion: Our study shows that prevalence of MDD in Israel is low compared to other countries, however once diagnosed, patients' are likely to receive drug treatment. Among patients diagnosed with MDD, the proportion of TRD is similar to other countries, increases with age and is associated with increased healthcare utilization, therefore should be a focus of continued research for finding effective long term treatment options.

Keywords: Major depressive disorder; Real-world retrospective database study; Treatment resistant depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Treatment-Resistant* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antidepressive Agents