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Review: continuing treatment with antidepressants reduces the rate of relapse or recurrence of depressive symptoms regardless of duration of treatment before or after randomisation

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 QUESTION: In patients with depressive disorders who had previously responded to acute antidepressant therapy, does continuation of antidepressant therapy reduce the risk of relapse or recurrence of depressive symptoms more than placebo?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline (1966 to April 2000); CINAHL (1982 to April 2000); EMBASE (1980 to April 2000); the Cochrane Collaboration depression, anxiety, and neurosis controlled trials register (CCDANCTR); PsycLIT (1974 to April 2000); Psyndex (1977 to December 1999); Lilacs (1982 to December 1999); and contact with authors, experts in the field, and drug companies that manufacture antidepressants.

Study selection

Studies were selected if they were randomised controlled trials (RCTs); allocated patients to continue or discontinue treatment; followed up patients for ≥1 month; and included patients with depressive disorders who had either responded to treatment for an acute episode, or remained free from depressive illness for a period on antidepressants following initial …

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  • Source of funding: Wellcome Trust.

  • For correspondence: Professor J Geddes, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.john.geddes{at}