Don’t Wait to Seek Depression Treatment

Depression may be more likely to improve when antidepressant treatment is started early

August 7, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Sometimes depression symptoms can be ignored, but new research suggests that seeking treatment early may be best.

A recent study found that people who began treatment with an antidepressant drug within the first six months of their depression were more likely to see their symptoms lessen.

Seeking treatment early may improve your chances of recovery.

"Tell your doctor about any depression symptoms."

The study, led by Jens Drachmann Bukh, PhD, at the University Hospital of Copenhagen in Denmark, looked for remission of depression symptoms in relation to the amount of time the depression went undiagnosed.

Remission means that depression symptoms are gone or at a low enough level to stop interfering with life function and well-being.

Interviews from 270 participants looked at the amount of time patients went without treatment after their depression started and their response to antidepressant treatment.

They found that patients who had six or more months of untreated depression were less likely to go into remission after using an antidepressant.

About 34 percent of patients who started treatment less than six months after the start of their depression had a full remission.

Of patients who had a six month or longer lag between the start of depression and start of treatment, about  21 percent had full remission.

The researchers concluded that waiting six months or more to start treatment after the onset of depression lowers the chances of reaching remission with antidepressant medications.

This study did not measure changes in symptoms or quality of life, so some people in the study may have felt the medication was working even if they did not reach remission.

Also, they only asked for patients to report on their depression and time to start treatment, so more research is needed that follows patients through the process.

This study was published July 30 in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Conflicts of interest were not reported.

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Review Date: 
August 6, 2012
Last Updated:
April 25, 2013