While most antidepression drugs should be used for at least six months, 52 percent of patients increase the chances of their depression recurring by discontinuing treatment after 12 weeks, doctors said at the opening ceremony of the Taiwan Sunflower Association for Holistic Care.
Furthermore, 11 percent of patients quit within one week, 24 percent within two weeks, and 28 percent within four weeks. 63 percent who discontinue treatment early fail to inform their doctors of their decision.
Chou Li-chih (周勵志), a psychiatrist at the Shin Kong Hospital and convener of the association, emphasized that the newly established association provided support and resources for patients of chronic diseases outside hospitals.
"AIDS, cancer or any other chronic disease can lead to depression," Chou said, stressing the need for holistic healthcare that looked beyond medication.
"A lot of times, doctors prescribe medication for patients, but for several reasons, the patients are unable to maintain treatment," he said.
According to Chou, 55 percent of anti-depression drug users quit because they felt better. 10 percent quit for fear of becoming addicted to the medication, while 9 percent quit because they felt they could overcome depression on their own.
However, Chou warned that early discontinuation of treatment could increase the chance of a recurrence of depression by up to 77 percent, emphasizing the need for support groups to educate and encourage patients undergoing long-term treatment.
After the first depressive episode, the risk of recurrence is 60 percent. After the second episode, the figure increases to 70 percent.