How long should drug treatment of depression last?

Giovanni A Fava, Chiara Ruini and Eliana Tossani
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05340.x
Published online: 19 May 2003

To the Editor: The beyondblue guidelines for treating depression in primary care by Ellis and Smith1 are intended to assist both healthcare professionals and consumers. While they provide several helpful indications, they also include some misleading suggestions. The authors state that drug treatment of depression should continue for at least one year for a first episode of depression, and at least two years for repeated episodes or when there are other risk factors for relapse. However, no background literature is cited in support of this statement, and indeed would be difficult to find.


  • 1. Ellis PM, Smith DAR. Treating depression: the beyondblue guidelines for treating depression in primary care. Med J Aust 2002; 176 (Suppl 20 May): S77-S83. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Viguera AC, Baldessarini RJ, Friedberg J. Discontinuing antidepressant treatment in major depression. Harv Rev Psychiatry 1998; 5: 293-306.
  • 3. Baldessarini RJ, Ghaemi SN, Viguera AC. Tolerance in antidepressant treatment. Psychother Psychosom 2002; 71: 177-179.
  • 4. Fava GA, Ruini C, Sonino N. Management of recurrent depression in primary care. Psychother Psychosom 2003; 72: 3-10.
  • 5. Fava GA. Long-term treatment with antidepressant drugs: the spectacular achievements of propaganda. Psychother Psychosom 2002; 71: 127-132.


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