Conventional antipsychotic prescription in unipolar depression, I: an audit and recommendations for practice

Jason A Wheeler Vega, Ann M. Mortimer, Philip J Tyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Despite narrow indications for conventional antipsychotics in depression, recent reports confirm a suspicion that they are widely prescribed in nonpsychotic depressive conditions.

METHOD: Data from the case notes of over 510 patients with unipolar depression (unvalidated clinical diagnoses) were collected between June 1997 and January 1998 from community and acute units in 1 National Health Service (NHS) Trust. The aim of this audit was to assess the extent and pattern of antipsychotic prescription in this sample.

RESULTS: More than a quarter (N = 138) of the sample (N = 494) were currently prescribed an antipsychotic; 40% of these received an antipsychotic without any recognized indication. The mean time on antipsychotic therapy was 3 years. Patients on antipsychotic therapy were, on average, taking twice as many total medications as those not on antipsychotic therapy. Patients with psychotic depression were taking an average of nearly twice the antipsychotic dose of nonpsychotic patients.

CONCLUSION: Current clinical guidelines commend careful antidepressant choice in preference to polypharmacy. A number of drug choices for specific depressive presentations are summarized from recent sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-74
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2003


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Disorders, Psychotic
  • Aged
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Depressive Disorder
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Drug Utilization Review
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Middle Aged
  • Polypharmacy
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom
  • Comparative Study


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