Transitions in depression: if, how, and when depressive symptoms return during and after discontinuing antidepressants

Arnout C. Smit*, Evelien Snippe, Laura F. Bringmann, H. J.Rogier Hoenders, Marieke Wichers

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

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Purpose: The aim of the current study is to provide insight into if, how, and when meaningful changes occur in individual patients who discontinue antidepressant medication. Agreement between macro-level quantitative symptom data, qualitative ratings, and micro-level Ecological Momentary Assessments is examined. Methods: During and shortly after antidepressant discontinuation, depressive symptoms and ‘feeling down’ were measured in 56 participants, using the SCL-90 depression subscale weekly (macro-level) for 6 months, and 5 Ecological Momentary Assessments daily (micro-level) for 4 months (30.404 quantitative measurements in total). Qualitative information was also obtained, providing additional information to verify that changes were clinically meaningful. Results: At the macro-level, an increase in depressive symptoms was found in 58.9% of participants that (a) was statistically reliable, (b) persisted for 3 weeks and/or required intervention, and (c) was clinically meaningful to patients. Of these increases, 30.3% happened suddenly, 42.4% gradually, and for 27.3% criteria were inconclusive. Quantitative and qualitative criteria showed a very high agreement (Cohen’s κ = 0.85) regarding if a participant experienced a recurrence of depression, but a moderate agreement (Cohen’s κ = 0.49) regarding how that change occurred. At the micro-level, 41.1% of participants experienced only sudden increases in depressed mood, 12.5% only gradual, 30.4% experienced both types of increase, and 16.1% neither. Conclusion: Meaningful change is common in patients discontinuing antidepressants, and there is substantial heterogeneity in how and when these changes occur. Depressive symptom change at the macro-level is not the same as depressive symptom change at the micro-level.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's12
TijdschriftQuality of Life Research
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 23-nov.-2022

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