Pharmacopsychiatry 2003; 36 - 282
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-825525

Time course of response to antidepressant drug treatment: Are there gender differences?

A Szegedi 1, J Angst 2, HH Stassen 2
  • 1Charité- Universitìtsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Berlin, Germany
  • 2Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, Research Dept., Zürich, Switzerland

Background: Early improvement during treatment with antidepressant drugs has been proposed to represent useful clinical predictor of an individual's response. We tested whether gender is an important factor for an individual’s response pattern.

Method: The individual data of 2788 patients with major depressive disorder participating in randomized clinical trials were used to detail the time characteristics of antidepressant drug response (survival analysis). Onset of improvement and response were determined. The properties of early occurring improvement as a clinically relevant predictor of response with special attention to gender differences were investigated.

Results: Improvement occurred in nearly 70% of the improvers within the first 2 weeks (early improvement). Early improvement turned out to be highly predictive of later outcome, as the probability of treatment response for patients not yet improved by the end of week 2 was found to be less than 25%. No significant gender differences were found in this respect.

Conclusions: Clinicians should especially pay attention to early improvement as the indicator of subsequent response to treatment in acute depression.