Depression was diagnosed 6 years earlier in a 37-year-old woman; it has been successfully managed since then with fluoxetine and outpatient psychotherapy. Since her teenage years, the patient has also experienced sporadic (fewer than 3 or 4 per year) mild or occasionally severe headaches, which she has usually self-treated with over-thecounter (OTC) agents or "just slept off."
ABSTRACT: Antidepressants and psychotherapy are effective treatments for major depression. In selecting an antidepressant, consider any previous response or family history of a response to a medication as well as anticipated side effects. Advise patients that antidepressants take at least 4 to 6 weeks to have a full therapeutic effect and that only about half of patients respond to the first drug prescribed. If the patient fails to respond or experiences intolerable side effects, it is usually advisable to substitute an antidepressant with a different mechanism of action. A combined approach using medication and psychotherapy often produces optimal results.
The diagnostic criteria for major depression are anhedonia, depressed mood, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, inability to concentrate, fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, significant weight loss or gain, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Five or more of these symptoms must be present for at least 2 weeks, and one of them must be anhedonia or depressed mood. Conditions that can present with depression include dysthymia, bipolar disorder, cyclothymia, and adjustment disorder. Depression may also result from substance abuse or from the physiological conditions associated with a medical disorder, such as spinal or head injury, AIDS, or cancer.