Researchers: Antidepressants for Anxiety Should Be Continued for at Least a Year After Treatment Response — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
September 14, 2017

Researchers: Antidepressants for Anxiety Should Be Continued for at Least a Year After Treatment Response

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD

Patients with anxiety disorders who respond to antidepressants and then stop treatment face increased risk for relapse in the year after treatment discontinuation, finds a meta-analysis in The BMJ.

The analysis included 28 studies in which 5200 patients with anxiety disorders who responded to antidepressants were randomized to either continue treatment or switch to a placebo, after which they were assessed for relapse. Most of the studies had drug company involvement.

During up to 1 year of follow-up, relapse occurred significantly more often with placebo than with treatment continuation (36% vs. 16% of patients). In addition, time to treatment relapse was significantly shorter with placebo.

The authors conclude, "On the basis of the evidence presented here, the advice is to continue antidepressants for at least a year [after treatment response]. After this period, no evidence based advice can be provided."

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