Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 70142
Prevalence, Median Time, and Associated Factors with the Likelihood of Initial Antidepressant Change: A Cross-Sectional Study

Authors: Nervana Elbakary, Sami Ouanes, Sadaf Riaz, Oraib Abdallah, Islam Mahran, Noriya Al-Khuzaei, Yassin Eltorki


Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) requires therapeutic interventions during the initial month after being diagnosed for better disease outcomes. International guidelines recommend a duration of 4–12 weeks for an initial antidepressant (IAD) trial at an optimized dose to get a response. If depressive symptoms persist after this duration, guidelines recommend switching, augmenting, or combining strategies as the next step. Most patients with MDD in the mental health setting have been labeled incorrectly as treatment-resistant where in fact they have not been subjected to an adequate trial of guideline-recommended therapy. Premature discontinuation of IAD due to ineffectiveness can cause unfavorable consequences. Avoiding irrational practices such as subtherapeutic doses of IAD, premature switching between the ADs, and refraining from unjustified polypharmacy can help the disease to go into a remission phase We aimed to determine the prevalence and the patterns of strategies applied after an IAD was changed because of a suboptimal response as a primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included the median survival time on IAD before any change; and the predictors that were associated with IAD change. This was a retrospective cross- sectional study conducted in Mental Health Services in Qatar. A dataset between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2019, was extracted from the electronic health records. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were defined and applied. The sample size was calculated to be at least 379 patients. Descriptive statistics were reported as frequencies and percentages, in addition, to mean and standard deviation. The median time of IAD to any change strategy was calculated using survival analysis. Associated predictors were examined using two unadjusted and adjusted cox regression models. A total of 487 patients met the inclusion criteria of the study. The average age for participants was 39.1 ± 12.3 years. Patients with first experience MDD episode 255 (52%) constituted a major part of our sample comparing to the relapse group 206(42%). About 431 (88%) of the patients had an occurrence of IAD change to any strategy before end of the study. Almost half of the sample (212 (49%); 95% CI [44–53%]) had their IAD changed less than or equal to 30 days. Switching was consistently more common than combination or augmentation at any timepoint. The median time to IAD change was 43 days with 95% CI [33.2–52.7]. Five independent variables (age, bothersome side effects, un-optimization of the dose before any change, comorbid anxiety, first onset episode) were significantly associated with the likelihood of IAD change in the unadjusted analysis. The factors statistically associated with higher hazard of IAD change in the adjusted analysis were: younger age, un-optimization of the IAD dose before any change, and comorbid anxiety. Because almost half of the patients in this study changed their IAD as early as within the first month, efforts to avoid treatment failure are needed to ensure patient-treatment targets are met. The findings of this study can have direct clinical guidance for health care professionals since an optimized, evidence-based use of AD medication can improve the clinical outcomes of patients with MDD; and also, to identify high-risk factors that could worsen the survival time on IAD such as young age and comorbid anxiety

Keywords: initial antidepressant, dose optimization, major depressive disorder, comorbid anxiety, combination, augmentation, switching, premature discontinuation

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