March 23, 2006
Statement of Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Executive Director
The New England Journal of Medicine has released two keystone studies on the treatment of major depression that are important to consumers, families and physicians.
Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the studies represent the second phase of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression clinical trials (STAR*D2). They provide long-term, "real world," comparative evidence that treatment with medication works for the most treatment-resistant depression.
STAR*D2 sends a clear message of hope to the 15 to 20 percent of people worldwide who struggle with depression at some stage in their lives. Treatment works. People do get better, to the point of complete remission, as long as they keep trying. The studies give consumers and doctors reasonable alternative strategies when one medication doesn’t work.
One in three consumers (33%) whose depression was resistant to initial treatment achieved remission - becoming not just better, but symptom-free - when a second medication was added. One in four (25%) achieved remission after switching to a different anti-depressant.
Depression kills. Remission saves lives. Complete elimination of symptoms means a return to family, friends and productivity. The personal, social and economic benefits are vast.
Several important points should be recognized:
See also: www.nimh.nih.gov/press/stard2.cfm