Serotonin reuptake inhibitors and the adequacy of antidepressant treatment

Michelle Shasha, John S. Lyons, Michael T. O'Mahoney, Sheldon I. Miller, Kenneth I. Howard, Alan Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether the use of sarotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) improves antidepressant medication prescribing patterns for both psychiatric and non-psychiatric physicians Data Sources/Setting: Drug utilization review of 4,103 prescriptions for antidepressant medications with patients diagnosed with depressive disorders over an eighteen-month period from the formulary records of a large insurance company. Design: Using standards developed for clinical guidelines, variation in trial and treatment adequacy between drag types and physician specialty was studied. Principal Findings: Thirty-five percent of initial antidepressant trials were not prescribed for an adequate duration or at an adequate dosage level. SSRIs were more likely to be prescribed adequately than any other antidepressant reviewed. Psychiatrists were more likely to prescribe antidepressants at an adequate dosage level, whereas non-psychiatric physicians were more likely to attain adequate duration of treatment. Conclusions: A greater reliance on SSRIs may increase the likelihood of maintaining adequacy in antidepressant treatments. Although higher in cost than other treatment choices, their lower side effect profile is likely to maximize patient satisfaction and physician and patient adherence to guidelines. In order to ensure effective and efficient antidepressant usage, such patterns must be identified and appropriate performance improvement strategies (e.g., Total Quality Improvement, critical pathways) may be employed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Antidepressant medication
  • Depression
  • Drug utilization review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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