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July 28, 1999

Relapse of Depressive Symptoms After Discontinuing Sertraline

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;282(4):323-324. doi:10.1001/jama.282.4.323

To the Editor: Dr Keller and colleagues1 report marked differences between continuing and discontinuing previously successful treatment with sertraline hydrochloride in patients with chronic depression. New episodes occurred in 10% of patients continuing sertraline (146 mg/d) for up to 18 months vs 30% after discontinuing sertraline and changing to placebo (over a period of 2.9 weeks), with new symptoms developing in 45% vs 72%, respectively. These differences (20%-27%) indicate a moderate sparing of relapse. It is remarkable that so many formerly long-term ill patients did so well after switching to placebo, but some may represent previously undertreated but reversible disorders.

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