Challenges in the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder With Psychotic Features

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Abstract

Psychotic depression is associated with significant morbidity and mortality but is underdiagnosed and undertreated. In recent years, there have been several studies that have increased our knowledge regarding the optimal treatment of patients with psychotic depression. The combination of an antidepressant and antipsychotic is significantly more effective than either antidepressant monotherapy or antipsychotic monotherapy for the acute treatment of psychotic depression. Most treatment guidelines recommend either the combination of an antidepressant with an antipsychotic or ECT for the treatment of an acute episode of unipolar psychotic depression. The optimal maintenance treatment after a person responds to either the antidepressant/antipsychotic combination or the ECT is unclear particularly as it pertains to length of time the patient needs to take the antipsychotic medication. Little is known regarding the optimal treatment of a patient with bipolar disorder who has an episode of psychotic depression or the clinical characteristics of responders to medication treatments vs ECT treatments.

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