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IFMA Preventive Health Management Inc.

Institute for Medical Advancement

New York, USA

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Onset of Improvement in Depressive Patients

In a series of studies of psychiatric patients ascertained shortly after hospital admission, we investigated the time course of recovery from depression by quantifying changes in psychopathology syndrome scores over time and by parallel assessment of speaking behavior and voice sound characteristics.

The Role of Early Improvement

Our analyses yielded no indication of a delayed onset of action of antidepressants. The onset of improvement occurred in the great majority of patients (79.1%) within the first 12 days of treatment. Early improvement was highly predictive of later outcome, since 67.6% of the patients showing improvement within the first 12 days were responders at the end of the observation period. Inversely, 92% of the responders at the end of the observation period exhibited an onset of improvement within the first 12 days. Early improvement could not be attributed to a few HAMD items, because score reductions were observed for virtually all items at early stages of treatment.

Speech Analysis

The analysis of the patients’ speaking behavior and voice sound characteristics yielded, in 62.8% of the cases, an essentially parallel development over time for the HAMD scores on the one hand, and acoustic variables on the other. The time course of improvement thus appeared to have a strong biological component and was unlikely to be attributable to the expectations of doctors and patients.

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vSpacer Time course of recovery from depression under therapy
Time course of recovery from depression under therapy as reflected by Hamilton Depression Scores «HAMD-17» (green square points) and voice sound characteristics (red circle points) from repeated assessments at 2-day intervals along with a final assessment at study end. Recovery from depression and revitalizing of voice sound characteristics occur essentially parallel.
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