The symptoms of major depressive disorder can be successfully treated with antidepressant therapies, but ensuring patient adherence to the medication is key, as is establishing bidirectional coordination of care on the patient’s behalf between the primary care provider and the treating behavioral health provider.

According to NCQA:

Major depression can lead to serious impairment in daily functioning, including changes in sleep patterns, appetite, concentration, energy and self-esteem, and can lead to suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the United States each year. Clinical guidelines for depression emphasize the importance of effective clinical management in increasing patients’ medication compliance, monitoring treatment effectiveness and identifying and managing side effects.

Effective medication treatment of major depression can improve a person’s daily functioning and well-being and can reduce the risk of suicide.

The crux of care coordination is to meet patients’ needs and preferences in the delivery of high-quality, high-value health care. This means that the health care professionals treating the patient know the patient’s needs and preferences and communicate them at the right time to the right people. Coordinating care needs can help guide the delivery of safe, appropriate and effective care. It also helps improve efficiency and shows patients that they and their time are valued and respected.

Consider these care coordination tips for patients prescribed antidepressant medication:

  • Follow up with patients within 30 days of the patient starting the antidepressant medication to identify any side effects. This is the best time frame to determine whether dosage adjustments are necessary.
  • Monitor adherence. Explain the importance of taking antidepressant medication as directed for a minimum of six months. It may take up to four to six weeks for therapeutic effect.
  • Explain the diagnosis, signs of improvement, and medication side effects and benefits, as well as how to reach you in the event of serious side effects.
  • Refer patients to a behavioral health provider for further support. Encourage communication between your office and the behavioral health provider.