Poor Patients More Likely to Stop Antidepressants

Psychotherapy and the appropriate medication may help reduce risk of discontinuation

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Socioeconomically disadvantaged patients are more likely than other depressed patients to discontinue antidepressant therapy, according to a study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Mark Olfson, M.D., of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data on 829 adults from the household component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for 1996-2001. The researchers found that 42.4% of the patients discontinued antidepressant therapy during the first 30 days and only 27.6% continued therapy for more than 90 days.

Discontinuation of antidepressants during the first 30 days of treatment was significantly more common among Hispanics (53.8%) than non-Hispanics (41.3%), patients with fewer than 12 years of education (50.8%) than those with 12 or more years (39.3%), and patients with low family income (50.2%) than those with medium or high family incomes (38.6%). The researchers also found that patients were significantly more likely to continue antidepressant treatment beyond 30 days if they received psychotherapy and were treated with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.

"Provision of psychotherapy and selection of an appropriate antidepressant medication may reduce the risk of discontinuation during the first three months of antidepressant treatment for depression," the authors conclude.

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