Standard Course of Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

Explanation of standard treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. Why, sometimes, doctors deviate from standard treatment for Major Depressive Disorder, MDD.

Antidepressants and Therapy for Treatment of Major Depression

A person with MDD is typically given an antidepressant medication as the first-line treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. The antidepressant is generally in the class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include antidepressants such as Lexapro and Prozac. This class tends to be the most effective with the fewest side effects for people with MDD. A doctor will select a specific SSRI based on the patient's symptoms, their history and the specific characteristics of the drug.

When a person is diagnosed with MDD, they are also generally advised to get depression therapy. Therapy in conjunction with antidepressant medication is more effective than either depression treatment alone.

The antidepressant is typically taken at the recommended dose for a recommended time to judge efficacy. (Recommendations come from the drug manufacturer as supplied to governmental agencies.) This period may be up to 12 or more weeks depending on the specific antidepressant medication. This is known as a medication trial. Once the end of the trial is reached, the doctor and patient assess whether the antidepressant medication is working and how well it is being tolerated. If the depression hasn't remitted, hasn't remitted enough, or the antidepressant side effects are unacceptable, a new medication trial is usually begun.

Some medication trials are ended early due to the physical or psychological needs of the patient, although these are not considered complete trials.

Deviations from the Standard Course of Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

Some individual doctors or patients deviate from the standard treatment of MDD for non-medical reasons. This may be because:

  • The patient requests a change
  • The patient requests a specific drug
  • Free patient samples are available of a specific drug
  • The doctor prefers a different course of treatment

It is important to note that deviating from the standard course of treatment for Major Depressive Disorder, particularly by the patient insisting on a specific drug, may be a reason why remission from depression is not achieved.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2022, January 4). Standard Course of Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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