Usually, 2-12 weeks at a therapeutic dose, with assumed adherence to the regimen, are needed for a clinical response to become evident. The choice of medication should be guided by anticipated safety and tolerability, which aid in compliance; physician familiarity, which aids in patient education and anticipation of adverse effects; and history of previous treatments. Often, treatment failures are caused by medication noncompliance, inadequate duration of therapy, or inadequate dosing.
According to the 2008 American College of Physicians (ACP) guideline (the most recent release of the guideline) on using second-generation antidepressants to treat depressive disorders, patient preferences should be given serious consideration when choosing the best course of pharmacotherapy for patients with depressive disorders. The patient may want to avoid use of a particular antidepressant if he or she had a previous negative experience with the drug.
The 2008 ACP guideline advises that treatment for major depressive disorder should be altered if the patient does not have an adequate response to pharmacotherapy within 6-8 weeks. Once satisfactory response is achieved, treatment should be continued for 4-9 months in patients with a first episode of major depression that was not associated with significant suicidality or catastrophic outcomes. In those who have had two or more episodes of depression, a longer course of maintenance treatment may prove beneficial. These patients should remain medicated to prevent relapse.
For more on the treatment of depression, read here.
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Cite this: Stephen Soreff. Fast Five Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Depression? - Medscape - Jan 20, 2016.