Although the efficacy of antidepressants has been demonstrated in randomised, controlled clinical trials, it is how an antidepressant is used in clinical practice that determines its clinical effectiveness, or real-world efficacy.
To explore the frequency with which antidepressants are used at adequate dose and duration to obtain remission of symptoms and prevent relapse in clinical practice and discuss potential implications for clinical outcomes.
Studies of antidepressant prescribing were reviewed and comparisons made between antidepressant classes and individual compounds within those classes.
Naturalistic studies show that patients who begin therapy on tricyclic antidepressants often receive sub-therapeutic doses for inadequate duration; conversely patients who begin therapy on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors more often receive an adequate dose of therapy for a longer duration.
How antidepressants are used in clinical practice can determine the clinical outcomes that are achieved. Antidepressants that are more forgiving of sub-optimal prescribing and use patterns by providers and patients, respectively, may help to improve real-world efficacy.