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Maintenance or Discontinuation of Antidepressants in Primary Care

Maintenance or Discontinuation of Antidepressants in Primary Care
Maintenance or Discontinuation of Antidepressants in Primary Care

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.

0028-4793
1257-1267
Lewis, Gemma
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Marston, Louise
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Duffy, Larisa
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Freemantle, Nick
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Gilbody, Simon
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Hunter, Rachael
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Kendrick, Tony
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Kessler, David
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Mangin, Dee
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King, Michael
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Lanham, Paul
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Moore, Michael
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Nazareth, Irwin
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Wiles, Nicola
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Bacon, Faye
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Bird, Molly
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Brabyn, Sally
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Burns, Alison
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Clarke, Caroline S
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Hunt, Anna
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Pervin, Jodi
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Lewis, Glyn
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Lewis, Gemma
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Marston, Louise
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Duffy, Larisa
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Freemantle, Nick
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Gilbody, Simon
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Hunter, Rachael
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Kendrick, Tony
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Kessler, David
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Mangin, Dee
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King, Michael
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Lanham, Paul
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Moore, Michael
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Nazareth, Irwin
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Wiles, Nicola
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Bacon, Faye
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Bird, Molly
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Brabyn, Sally
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Burns, Alison
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Clarke, Caroline S
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Hunt, Anna
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Pervin, Jodi
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Lewis, Glyn
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Lewis, Gemma, Marston, Louise, Duffy, Larisa, Freemantle, Nick, Gilbody, Simon, Hunter, Rachael, Kendrick, Tony, Kessler, David, Mangin, Dee, King, Michael, Lanham, Paul, Moore, Michael, Nazareth, Irwin, Wiles, Nicola, Bacon, Faye, Bird, Molly, Brabyn, Sally, Burns, Alison, Clarke, Caroline S, Hunt, Anna, Pervin, Jodi and Lewis, Glyn (2021) Maintenance or Discontinuation of Antidepressants in Primary Care. New England Journal of Medicine, 385 (14), 1257-1267. (doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2106356).

Record type: Article

Abstract

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.

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More information

Published date: 30 September 2021
Additional Information: Supported by the National Institute for Health Research (HTA Program 13/115/48). Funded by the National Institute for Health Re - search; ANTLER ISRCTN number, ISRCTN15969819.

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 452144
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/452144
ISSN: 0028-4793
PURE UUID: 4b427023-5a54-4209-a6c4-817d5686d23f
ORCID for Tony Kendrick: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1618-9381
ORCID for Michael Moore: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5127-4509

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 25 Nov 2021 19:44
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 01:47

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Contributors

Author: Gemma Lewis
Author: Louise Marston
Author: Larisa Duffy
Author: Nick Freemantle
Author: Simon Gilbody
Author: Rachael Hunter
Author: Tony Kendrick ORCID iD
Author: David Kessler
Author: Dee Mangin
Author: Michael King
Author: Paul Lanham
Author: Michael Moore ORCID iD
Author: Irwin Nazareth
Author: Nicola Wiles
Author: Faye Bacon
Author: Molly Bird
Author: Sally Brabyn
Author: Alison Burns
Author: Caroline S Clarke
Author: Anna Hunt
Author: Jodi Pervin
Author: Glyn Lewis

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