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Maintenance or Discontinuation of Antidepressants in Primary Care

Lewis, G, Marston, L, Duffy, L, Freemantle, N, Gilbody, S, Hunter, R, Kendrick, T, Kessler, D, Mangin, D, King, M, Lanham, P, Moore, M, Nazareth, I, Wiles, N, Bacon, F, Bird, M, Brabyn, S, Burns, A, Clarke, CS, Hunt, A , Pervin, J and Lewis, G (2021) Maintenance or Discontinuation of Antidepressants in Primary Care. New England Journal of Medicine, 385 (14). pp. 1257-1267. ISSN 0028-4793

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2106356 (Published Version)


BACKGROUND: Patients with depression who are treated in primary care practices may receive antidepressants for prolonged periods. Data are limited on the effects of maintaining or discontinuing antidepressant therapy in this setting.
METHODS: We conducted a randomized, double-blind trial involving adults who were being treated in 150 general practices in the United Kingdom. All the patients had a history of at least two depressive episodes or had been taking antidepressants for 2 years or longer and felt well enough to consider stopping antidepressants. Patients who had received citalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, or mirtazapine were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to maintain their current antidepressant therapy (maintenance group) or to taper and discontinue such therapy with the use of matching placebo (discontinuation group). The primary outcome was the first relapse of depression during the 52-week trial period, as evaluated in a time-to-event analysis. Secondary outcomes were depressive and anxiety symptoms, physical and withdrawal symptoms, quality of life, time to stopping an antidepressant or placebo, and global mood ratings.
RESULTS: A total of 1466 patients underwent screening. Of these patients, 478 were enrolled in the trial (238 in the maintenance group and 240 in the discontinuation group). The average age of the patients was 54 years; 73% were women. Adherence to the trial assignment was 70% in the maintenance group and 52% in the discontinuation group. By 52 weeks, relapse occurred in 92 of 238 patients (39%) in the maintenance group and in 135 of 240 (56%) in the discontinuation group (hazard ratio, 2.06; 95% confidence interval, 1.56 to 2.70; P<0.001). Secondary outcomes were generally in the same direction as the primary outcome. Patients in the discontinuation group had more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and withdrawal than those in the maintenance group.
CONCLUSIONS: Among patients in primary care practices who felt well enough to discontinue antidepressant therapy, those who were assigned to stop their medication had a higher risk of relapse of depression by 52 weeks than those who were assigned to maintain their current therapy.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: DEPRESSION; DISORDER; General & Internal Medicine; Life Sciences & Biomedicine; Medicine, General & Internal; METAANALYSIS; RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL; RECURRENCE; RELAPSE PREVENTION; Science & Technology; THERAPY; Science & Technology; Life Sciences & Biomedicine; Medicine, General & Internal; General & Internal Medicine; RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL; RELAPSE PREVENTION; METAANALYSIS; DEPRESSION; THERAPY; RECURRENCE; DISORDER; Humans; Recurrence; Citalopram; Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors; Antidepressive Agents; Withholding Treatment; Follow-Up Studies; Double-Blind Method; Anxiety Disorders; Depressive Disorder; Adult; Aged; Middle Aged; Primary Health Care; Female; Male; Kaplan-Meier Estimate; Maintenance Chemotherapy; Surveys and Questionnaires; United Kingdom; Adult; Aged; Antidepressive Agents; Anxiety Disorders; Citalopram; Depressive Disorder; Double-Blind Method; Female; Follow-Up Studies; Humans; Kaplan-Meier Estimate; Maintenance Chemotherapy; Male; Middle Aged; Primary Health Care; Recurrence; Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors; Surveys and Questionnaires; United Kingdom; Withholding Treatment; 11 Medical and Health Sciences; General & Internal Medicine
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RS Pharmacy and materia medica
Divisions: Psychology (new Sep 2019)
Publisher: Massachusetts Medical Society
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2022 09:18
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2022 09:18
DOI or Identification number: 10.1056/NEJMoa2106356
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18440

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