Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a disabling psychiatric condition for which effective treatment remains an outstanding need. Antidepressants are currently the mainstay of treatment for depression; however, almost two-thirds of patients will fail to achieve remission with initial treatment. As a result, a range of augmentation and combination strategies have been used in order to improve outcomes for patients. Despite the popularity of these approaches, limited data from double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies are available to allow clinicians to determine which are the most effective augmentation options or which patients are most likely to respond to which options. Recently, evidence has shown that adjunctive therapy with atypical antipsychotics has the potential for beneficial antidepressant effects in the absence of psychotic symptoms. In particular, aripiprazole has shown efficacy as an augmentation option with standard antidepressant therapy in two, large, randomized, double-blind studies. Based on these efficacy and safety data, aripiprazole was recently approved by the FDA as adjunctive therapy for MDD. The availability of this new treatment option should allow more patients with MDD to achieve remission and, ultimately, long-term, successful outcomes.
Keywords: major depression, antipsychotic, mood disorder, aripiprazole