MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Greta A Bushnell, MSPH
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Epidemiology
UNC, Gillings School of Global Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Patients with depression may be co-prescribed a benzodiazepine at antidepressant initiation for a short period for a variety of reasons. Reasons include reducing concurrent anxiety and insomnia, reducing depression severity more quickly, and improved antidepressant continuation. However, there are concerns with benzodiazepines including dependency. As such, benzodiazepines are usually recommended for only short-term treatment.
Prior to our study, little was known about a) how often new simultaneous antidepressant and benzodiazepine prescribing occurred among patients initiating antidepressant treatment for depression or b) whether new simultaneous users became long-term benzodiazepine users.
In a large commercial insurance database, we identified adults aged 18-64 years with depression who initiated an antidepressant from 2001 to 2014. We found that 11% of adults simultaneously initiated benzodiazepine treatment, which increased from 6% in 2001 to a peak at 12% in 2012. We observed similar antidepressant treatment length at six months in simultaneous new users and among patients initiating antidepressants only. The majority of simultaneous new users had only one benzodiazepine prescription fill before benzodiazepine discontinuation; however, 12% were identified as long-term benzodiazepine users.