Tricyclic antidepressants for major depressive disorder: A comprehensive evaluation of current practice in the Netherlands
Number of pages
SourceBMC Psychiatry, 21, (2021), article 481
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Radboudumc 0: Other Research RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
Background: Traditionally tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have an important place in treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). Today, often other antidepressant medications are considered as first step in the pharmacological treatment of MDD, mainly because they are associated with less adverse effects, whereby the position of TCAs appears unclear. In this study we aimed to examine the current practice of TCAs in treatment of unipolar MDD. Methods: A mixed methods approach was applied. First, a selection of leading international and national guidelines was reviewed. Second, actual TCA prescription was examined by analyzing health records of 75 MDD patients treated with the TCAs nortriptyline, clomipramine or imipramine in different centers in the Netherlands. Third, promotors and barriers influencing the choice for TCAs and dosing strategies were explored using semi-structured interviews with 24 Dutch psychiatrists. Results: Clinical practice guidelines were sometimes indirective and inconsistent with each other. Health records revealed that most patients (71%) attained therapeutic plasma concentrations within two months of TCA use. Patients who achieved therapeutic plasma concentrations reached them on average after 19.6 days (SD 10.9). Both health records and interviews indicated that therapeutic nortriptyline concentrations were attained faster compared to other TCAs. Various factors were identified influencing the choice for TCAs and dosing by psychiatrists. Conclusions: Guideline recommendations and clinical practice regarding TCA prescription for MDD vary. To increase consistency in clinical practice we recommend development of an up-to-date guideline integrating selection and dosing of TCAs, including the roles of therapeutic drug monitoring and pharmacogenetics. Such a guideline is currently lacking and would contribute to optimal TCA treatment, whereby efficacy and tolerability may be increased.
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