"Medication helps some, but not all, people with depression," Stotland said in a prepared statement. "For people with mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy can work as well as medication. Studies have shown that between 70 and 80 percent of people can and do get better with a combination of treatment approaches, which will often include individual therapy, family therapy and/or medication.
"Therefore, testing any single antidepressant on a group of depressed individuals will show that many of them do not improve," Stotland added. "There is a small group of depressed individuals who do not respond to any antidepressant."
The new study highlights the fact that treatment for depression needs to be tailored to an individual, and that the most effective treatment will often include multiple approaches, Stotland said. The study results also suggest that more long-term follow-up trials are needed to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from specific therapies.
"Some of the most exciting research in progress at the present time concerns our attempt to match the antidepressant to the patient from the outset; we may be able to perform laboratory tests or identify clinical factors that let us know in advance which antidepressant will work for each person," Stotland said. "That will be an enormous advance for the millions of people suffering from this very painful and potentially disabling disease."
To learn more about antidepressants, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: American Psychiatric Association, news release, Feb. 26, 2008; PLoS Medicine, Feb. 25, 2008, online
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