If your treatment for depression has not worked during the first six to eight weeks your chances of recovery are greatly enhanced if you either add another medication or switch drugs completely, according to a new study.

Just one third of patients who are treated for depression recover within twelve weeks. If the unfortunate ones who do not get better within six to eight weeks, add another medication to their treatment, or change to a new antidepressant, their chances of a full recovery increase to 50%.

You can read about this study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The study was commissioned by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Lead researcher, Dr. A J Rush, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, said ?Fifty percent is extraordinarily good given the nature of these illnesses. Most people should expect two treatment attempts."

In this study, 2,976 patients were enrolled into a programme. The study, called STAR-D, spanned 2001 - 2004. The majority of patients had severe depression. 14 centres throughout the USA took part in STAR-D.

The researchers found that one third of patients recovered after a 12-week treatment period. The other two thirds were given either an additional drug or switched to a completely different antidepressant. This brought the total number of patients who got better to 50%.

The researchers said that with depression, as with many illnesses, one type of treatment does not suit all patients.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today