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Logo of bmcpsycBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Psychiatry
 
BMC Psychiatry. 2011; 11: 164.
Published online 2011 October 10. doi:  10.1186/1471-244X-11-164
PMCID: PMC3206417

Sub-threshold depression and antidepressants use in a community sample: searching anxiety and finding bipolar disorder

Abstract

Background

To determine the use of antidepressants (ADs) in people with sub-threshold depression (SD); the lifetime prevalence of mania and hypomania in SD and the link between ADs use, bipolarity and anxiety disorders in SD.

Methods

Study design: community survey. Study population: samples randomly drawn, after stratification from the adult population of municipal records. Sample size: 4999 people from seven areas within six Italian regions. Tools: Questionnaire on psychotropic drug consumption, prescription; Structured Clinical Interview NP for DSM-IV modified (ANTAS); Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D); Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ); Short Form Health Survey (SF-12). SD definition: HAM-D > 10 without lifetime diagnosis of Depressive Episode (DE).

Results

SD point prevalence is 5.0%. The lifetime prevalence of mania and hypomania episodes in SD is 7.3%. Benzodiazepines (BDZ) consumption in SD is 24.1%, followed by ADs (19.7%). In SD, positive for MDQ and comorbidity with Panic Disorder (PD) or Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GAD) are associated with ADs use, whereas the association between a positive MDQ and ADs use, without a diagnosis of PD or GAD, is not significant. Only in people with DE the well-being (SF-12) is higher among those using first-line antidepressants compared to those not using any medication. In people with SD no significant differences were found in terms of SF-12 score according to drug use.

Conclusions

This study suggests caution in prescribing ADs to people with SD. In people with concomitant anxiety disorders and SD, it should be mandatory to perform a well-designed assessment and evaluate the presence of previous manic or hypomanic symptoms prior to prescribing ADs.


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