Pharmacological management of depression: Japanese expert consensus

Medical Education Panel of the Japanese Society of Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Clinically relevant issues in the real-world treatment of depression have not always been captured by conventional treatment guidelines. Methods: Certified psychiatrists of the Japanese Society of Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology were asked to evaluate treatment options regarding 23 clinical situations in the treatment of depression using a 9-point Likert scale (1=“disagree” and 9=“agree”). According to the responses of 114 experts, the options were categorized into first-, second-, and third-line treatments. Results: First-line antidepressants varied depending on predominant symptoms: escitalopram (mean ± standard deviation score, 7.8 ± 1.7) and sertraline (7.3 ± 1.7) were likely selected for anxiety; duloxetine (7.6 ± 1.9) and venlafaxine (7.2 ± 2.1) for loss of interest; mirtazapine for insomnia (8.2 ± 1.6), loss of appetite (7.9 ± 1.9), agitation and severe irritation (7.4 ± 2.0), and suicidal ideation (7.5 ± 1.9). While first-line treatment was switched to either an SNRI (7.7 ± 1.9) or mirtazapine (7.4 ± 2.0) in the case of non-response to an SSRI, switching to mirtazapine (7.1 ± 2.2) was recommended in the case of non-response to an SNRI, and vice versa (switching to an SNRI (7.0 ± 2.0) in the case of non-response to mirtazapine). Augmentation with aripiprazole was considered the first-line treatment for partial response to an SSRI (7.1 ± 2.3) or SNRI (7.0 ± 2.5). Limitations: The evidence level of expert consensus is considered low. All included experts were Japanese. Conclusions: Recommendations made by experts in the field are useful and can supplement guidelines and informed decision making in real-world clinical practice. We suggest that pharmacological strategies for depression be flexible and that each patient's situational needs as well as the pharmacotherapeutic profile of medications be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-632
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1


  • Antidepressant
  • Depression
  • Expert consensus guideline
  • Treatment guideline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Pharmacological management of depression: Japanese expert consensus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this