Managing Depression

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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Statistics show that people who suffer from depression are likely to relapse, even after successfully being treated. Studies have shown, for example, that the relapse rate after having one bout of depression is 50 percent, and after two bouts, 80 percent. What's more, in many patients depression is a chronic illness, much like asthma -- it must be treated over the long run in order to be controlled.

With these statistics in mind, researchers from the University of Washington divided 386 patients who had initially been treated for depression for 8 weeks into two groups: one group received no special care after the treatment program was over, while the other received special intervention aimed at reducing the relapse rate.

Patients in the special intervention group received two primary care visits with a depression specialist and three telephone visits over a one-year period. The purpose of the visits was to ensure patients stayed on their antidepressant medications and track symptoms of depression. A written relapse prevention plan was also developed for patients in this group.

Follow-up assessments were performed on patients in both the treatment and nontreatment groups at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months by practitioners who were unaware of which group the patients were in. Results showed that those in the intervention group were significantly more likely to stay on their antidepressant medications and also experienced fewer symptoms of depression than those who received no special care after the initial treatment program. The relapse rate for both groups, however, was similar, leading the researchers to conclude that a more intense relapse prevention program may be needed to have a significant impact on relapse rates in this population.

The study is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry .

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