New article on pharmacological treatments and risk of readmission to hospital for unipolar depression

01.06.2017 – Our new article on pharmacological treatments and risk of readmission to hospital for unipolar depression has been published in The Lancet.

Little is known about the comparative effectiveness of long-term pharmacological treatments for severe unipolar depression. We aimed to study the effectiveness of pharmacological treatments in relapse prevention in a nationwide cohort of patients who had been admitted to hospital at least once as a result of unipolar depression.

Our nationwide cohort study investigated the risk of readmission to hospital in 1996–2012 in all patients in Finland who had been admitted to hospital at least once for unipolar depression (without a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) in Finland between Jan 1, 1987, and Dec 31, 2012. We used nationwide databases to obtain data for hospital admission, mortality, and dispensed medications.

Our results indicate that lithium, especially without concomitant antidepressant use, is the pharmacological treatment associated with the lowest risk of hospital readmission for mental illness in patients with severe unipolar depression, and the outcomes for this measure related to antidepressants and antipsychotics are poorer than lithium. Lithium treatment should be considered for a wider population of severely depressed patients than those currently considered, taking into account its potential risks and side-effects.

Tiihonen J, Tanskanen A, Hoti F, Vattulainen P, Taipale H, Mehtälä J, Lähteenvuo M. Pharmacological treatments and risk of readmission to hospital for unipolar depression in Finland: a nationwide cohort study. Published in The Lance Psychiatry Volume 4, No. 7, p547–553, July 2017. – Read abstract