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Depression Treatment Algorithms

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Updated October 30, 2012

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What Is a Depression Treatment Algorithm?

Despite the many options available for treating depression, it can be quite challenging for physicians to select which treatment will be most beneficial for a particular patient. Many factors play a role in causing depression and different treatments address these causes in different ways. Because depression is still not well-understood, it is often a matter of trial-and-error in determining the best treatment plan for an individual.

One solution for this problem is for a doctor to use a depression treatment algorithm. Depression treatment algorithms are step-by-step procedures, based upon the best currently available evidence, which provide doctors a systematic plan for trying trials of different depression treatments. The goal of using a depression treatment algorithm is to treat patients in the most efficient and effective way possible.

On the following pages you will find an example of a depression treatment algorithm, including a flowchart and a plain English explanation of what occurs during each step of treatment. This particular algorithm was part of the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), which was used to develop treatment manuals for Texas' publicly funded mental health care system.

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