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Data from the UK suggests 13-55 % of depression patients experience some level of treatment resistance. However, little is known about how physicians manage inadequate response to antidepressants in primary care. This study aimed to explore the incidence of inadequate response to antidepressants in UK primary care. One-hundred-eighty-four medication-free patients with low mood initiated antidepressant treatment and monitored severity of depression symptoms, using the QIDS-SR16, for 48 weeks. Medication changes, visits to healthcare providers, and health-related quality of life were also recorded. Patients were classified into one of four response types based on their QIDS scores at three study timepoints: persistent inadequate responders (<50 % reduction in baseline QIDS at all timepoints), successful responders (≥50 % reduction in baseline QIDS at all timepoints), slow responders (≥50 % reduction in QIDS at week 48, despite earlier inadequate responses), and relapse (initial ≥50 % reduction in baseline QIDS, but inadequate response by week 48). Forty-eight weeks after initiating treatment 47 % of patients continued to experience symptoms of depression (QIDS >5), and 20 % of patients had a persistent inadequate response. Regardless of treatment response, 96 % (n = 176) of patients did not visit their primary care physician over the 40-week follow-up period. These results suggest that despite receiving treatment, a considerable proportion of patients with low mood remain unwell and fail to recover. Monitoring depression symptoms remotely can enable physicians to identify inadequate responders, allowing patients to be reassessed or referred to secondary services, likely improving patients' quality of life and reducing the socioeconomic impacts of chronic mental illness.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Neuropsychopharmacol

Publication Date





61 - 70


Antidepressant, Depression, Treatment, Treatment-resistant depression