Introduction Many individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) do not respond to initial antidepressant monotherapy. Adjunctive aripiprazole is recommended for treatment non-response; however, the impacts on quality of life (QoL) for individuals who receive this second-line treatment strategy have not been described.
Methods We evaluated secondary QoL outcomes in patients with MDD (n=179). After 8 weeks of escitalopram, non-responders (<50% decrease in clinician-rated depression) were treated with adjunctive aripiprazole for 8 weeks (n=97); responders continued escitalopram (n=82). A repeated-measures ANOVA evaluated change in Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Short Form scores. QoL was described relative to normative benchmarks.
Results Escitalopram responders experienced the most QoL improvements in the first treatment phase. For non-responders, QoL improved with a large effect during adjunctive aripiprazole treatment. At the endpoint, 47% of patients achieving symptomatic remission still had impaired QoL.
Discussion Individuals who were treated with adjunctive aripiprazole after non-response to escitalopram experienced improved QoL, but a substantial degree of QoL impairment persisted. Since QoL deficits may predict MDD recurrence, attention to ways to support this outcome is required.