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The Majority of Patients with Depression Stop Drug Treatment Prematurely


Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder, affecting millions of people in the United States and other countries. While many people experience a significant reduction in symptoms with the proper treatment, many individuals stop their treatment prematurely.

A recent study in Spain found that the majority of people who are prescribed anti-depressant medication stop taking it within the first 6 months, and only 22% of individuals actually completed their treatment.

The researchers studied over 7,500 patients who had begun treatment with anti-depressant medication from 2003 to 2007. They looked at the length of time they took the medication, and why they stopped taking it.

They found that over half (56%) of the patients discontinued their medication within 4 months after they started. Less than one out of 4 continued with their medication longer than 11 months. Interestingly, those patients who were multiply-medicated were two times more likely to stick with their treatment. Also, men tended to discontinue treatment sooner than women.

In general, a minimum period of 6 months is recommended for the treatment of severe depression. In some cases, successful treatment may take longer depending on a variety of factors. There is often some trial and error involved in finding the right medication, as medications work differently in different people. This is why it is so important to not give up prematurely.

If undesirable side effects are a problem, talk to your doctor. In many cases, switching to a different medication or adjusting the dose can help reduce or alleviate side effects.

Also, the combination of psychotherapy and medication is usually more effective in the long run than medication alone. Psychotherapy alone is often effective for the treatment of mild depression, and even moderate depression in some cases.

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