Remission-Oriented Treatment of Depression

Robert H. Howland, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Philip T. Ninan, David L. Ginsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the wide variety of available antidepressant therapies, an important question is how effective are we in treating depression? In clinical research trials of antidepressants, a treatment response is defined as a 50% or greater improvement in depressive symptoms, whereas remission is defined as having minimal or absent symptoms at the end of treatment. Approximately 50% of patients treated with antidepressants have a treatment response, but only about 25% have a complete remission. Many treatment responders therefore have residual symptoms despite adequate treatment. This is critically important because depressed patients with residual symptoms, even though mild in severity, still have significant functional impairment, have a high risk of relapsing into a more severe episode, and may have a more chronic course of illness. Such patients also do not show a full functional recovery from their depression. Recent comparative studies have found that remission rates are significantly higher with venlafaxine (Effexor) compared to serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which might be due to their different effects on neurotransmitter systems. The use of medication combinations, having additive and/or synergistic antidepressant effects, or adding psychotherapy following a course of pharmacotherapy also can be used to treat residual symptoms and lead to a more complete remission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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