November 2, 2006
A landmark study on the effectiveness of drugs for major depression has demonstrated the importance of giving people the best possible, most effective medications, right from the start.
Findings from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), published this week in the American Journal of Psychiatry show that almost 70% of patients with depression are helped by one or more drugs. Approximately 40% achieved remission of symptoms on the first try and 30% on the second.
However, the latest results show diminishing returns. Only 14% and 13% of patients respectively achieved remission on the third and fourth tries. In 2005, NAMI conducted a survey that showed that the majority of patients with depression who were surveyed had tried four medications.
Greater scientific research is needed to achieve better, faster-acting, long-lasting alternatives.