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This article is a clinical guide which discusses the “state-of-the-art” usage of the classic monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants (phenelzine, tranylcypromine, and isocarboxazid) in modern psychiatric practice. The guide is for all clinicians, including those who may not be experienced MAOI prescribers. It discusses indications, drug-drug interactions, side-effect management, and the safety of various augmentation strategies. There is a clear and broad consensus (more than 70 international expert endorsers), based on 6 decades of experience, for the recommendations herein exposited. They are based on empirical evidence and expert opinion—this guide is presented as a new specialist-consensus standard. The guide provides practical clinical advice, and is the basis for the rational use of these drugs, particularly because it improves and updates knowledge, and corrects the various misconceptions that have hitherto been prominent in the literature, partly due to insufficient knowledge of pharmacology. The guide suggests that MAOIs should always be considered in cases of treatment-resistant depression (including those melancholic in nature), and prior to electroconvulsive therapy—while taking into account of patient preference. In selected cases, they may be considered earlier in the treatment algorithm than has previously been customary, and should not be regarded as drugs of last resort; they may prove decisively effective when many other treatments have failed. The guide clarifies key points on the concomitant use of incorrectly proscribed drugs such as methylphenidate and some tricyclic antidepressants. It also illustrates the straightforward “bridging” methods that may be used to transition simply and safely from other antidepressants to MAOIs.
Few studies have examined the course of illness among severely depressed patients ascertained at first hospitalization. Using data from the Suffolk County Mental Health Project (SCMHP), we investigated the times to and predictors of the first full remission and the first relapse during a 4-year period in a first-admission cohort with major depressive disorder (MDD) with psychotic features.
The cohort included 87 county-wide, first-admission patients with a longitudinal consensus diagnosis of MDD with psychotic features who were systematically followed over a 4-year period. We examined the associations of background, clinical and treatment factors, and time-varying indices of antidepressant (AD) and antipsychotic (AP) medication use to time to remission and relapse using Cox regression.
By the 4-year follow-up, 60 respondents (69·0%) had achieved a period of full remission (median time of 22 weeks among remitters and 54 weeks in the full sample). In the multivariable analysis, longer time to remission was associated with longer latency between initial episode and hospitalization, lower pre-hospital Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score, and lack of insurance, but not use of medication. Twenty-six remitters (43·3%) relapsed (median time of 50 weeks among those who relapsed and 192 weeks among all remitters). None of the risk factors or time-varying medication variables was significantly associated with time to relapse.
Only two-thirds of the sample had at least one full remission by 4 years, and almost half of them subsequently relapsed. Poorer pre-hospital resources predicted remission but not relapse. Medication use over the follow-up was not associated with remission or relapse.
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