Guidelines recommend CBT alone for mild acute depression, more options for more severe cases



Financial costs remain unclear

Beyond the above medical considerations, one other piece of the depression puzzle remains unsolved: cost.

In a simultaneously published rapid review, Andreea Dobrescu, MD, PhD, of Cochrane Austria, and colleagues evaluated the relative cost-effectiveness of first- and second-step treatment strategies.

For most comparisons, evidence was insufficient to reach a conclusion, although they suggested that CBT may be more cost effective at the 5-year mark.

“For most pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions for major depressive disorder, evidence was missing or was insufficient to draw conclusions about the cost-effectiveness of first- or second-step treatments for MDD,” Dr. Dobrescu and colleagues wrote. “The strongest evidence (albeit still low certainty of evidence) was for the cost-effectiveness of CBT compared with SGA as a first-step treatment over a 5-year time horizon from the societal and health care sector perspectives. However, this evidence should also be interpreted cautiously considering it is based on a single study.”

When asked about the financial findings, Dr. Mire agreed that more data are needed, especially because CBT and SGA costs range widely. He suggested that cost, for each patient, should be considered in the personalized approach now highlighted by the new guidelines.

The guidelines and the Cochrane cost-effectiveness study were supported by the ACP. The guidelines' authors and other individuals quoted in this article reported no conflicts of interest.


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