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Continuation drug therapy for major depressive episodes: how long should it be maintained?
Am J Psychiatry 1986;143:18-23.
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Abstract

A major problem for the practitioner is the lack of satisfactory guidelines as to how long continuation drug treatment of depressive episodes must be maintained to ensure that the episode is over. This often leads to either premature withdrawal of the drug and subsequent relapse or unnecessarily prolonged treatment. Results from a collaborative project of the National Institute of Mental Health provide the first study-derived guidelines on the length of continuation therapy. Findings indicate that withdrawal of such therapy is safe only after the patient has been free of significant symptoms for 16 to 20 weeks and that focusing on mild as well as severe symptoms is critical in this decision.

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