Intended for healthcare professionals


Reserve antidepressants for cases of severe depression, Dutch doctors are told

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 18 June 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e4211
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. 1Utrecht

Antidepressant drugs such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic depressants should be prescribed as the first treatment only in cases of severe depression, says new guidance from the Dutch College of General Practitioners.

It recommends that drug treatment should not be “the first step” for patients exhibiting only “depressive symptoms,” a new category distinct from depression—a move that professional associations believe could substantially reduce the Netherlands’ one million users of antidepressants.

The revised “evidence based professional guidance” recommends that antidepressant treatment should be prescribed from the outset only if the patient’s depression “is accompanied by severe suffering or social dysfunctioning …

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