Mental Health Awareness Month: Many people still suffer from depressive symptoms on an antidepressant

(BPT) - This article is sponsored by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck, for which Dr. Maguire is a paid consultant.

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, a time to educate the public on various mental or behavioral health issues while reducing the stigma that many people, including those living with major depressive disorder (MDD), still experience. Research shows that an estimated 17.3 million American adults suffer from MDD. MDD, also known as depression, is a serious mental illness characterized by symptoms that last at least two weeks, can cause significant functional impairment, and can occur on and off throughout a person’s lifetime.

“People living with depression may experience a range of symptoms ranging from persistent sadness and anxiety to feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. Additionally, they may feel irritable, have difficulty concentrating or witness changes in appetite or weight,” says Dr. Gerald Maguire, a leading psychiatrist and Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. “Not everyone who is depressed will experience every symptom – every patient is different – and that’s why it is important to communicate individual symptoms with a doctor to determine a treatment plan that is best for them.”

Dr. Maguire explains that depression, which is one of the most common mental illness in the United States, can affect anyone and does not have a single cause. However, there are effective treatment options that can help.

“Treatment looks different for every patient. It may include psychotherapy, medications such as antidepressants, add-on therapies or a combination of these approaches over a period of time, as decided by a patient and their health care provider,” says Dr. Maguire.

Despite taking an antidepressant – which the is the most common first-line treatment for depression – many patients still suffer from depressive symptoms. This is sometimes called “partial response.” This means that a patient may have made some progress with their current treatment regimen, but still struggles with lingering symptoms of depression.

“Nearly two-third of patients taking an antidepressant may experience a partial response. If patients are continuing to experience depressive symptoms on an antidepressant, I strongly encourage them to speak with their health care team. It’s essential that patients keep providers informed about their symptoms so that providers can make dosage adjustments, switch medications, or include add on therapies, as needed,” says Dr. Maguire.

REXULTI® (brexpiprazole) is a prescription medicine used to treat major depressive disorder in adults. REXULTI is used with antidepressant medicines, when their healthcare provider determines that an antidepressant alone is not enough to treat their depression. For adult patients taking an antidepressant for at least two months, but aren’t seeing the progress they hoped for, adding REXULTI to their antidepressant medication may help reduce their depression symptoms – without giving up the progress they’ve already made with their current antidepressant.

REXULTI may cause serious side effects, including an increased risk of death in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis and risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. Please read the IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION below.

“Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a great reminder to patients and providers alike that frequent and open communication is a vital aspect of any care plan,” says Dr. Maguire. “For patients suffering from depression, specifically those who may be taking an antidepressant and are still experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important that they know they are not alone and that adjustments to medications, which may include the addition of REXULTI, may provide improved symptom relief.”

Dr. Maguire also advises patients to engage their health care team if they have any concerns or notice any changes in their mental health.

Learn more at www.rexulti.com.

INDICATION and IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION for
REXULTI® (brexpiprazole)

INDICATION:

REXULTI is a prescription medicine used to treat:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD): REXULTI is used with antidepressant medicines, when your healthcare provider determines that an antidepressant alone is not enough to treat your depression.

It is not known if REXULTI is safe and effective in people under 18 years of age.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION:

Increased risk of death in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis. Medicines like REXULTI can raise the risk of death in elderly who have lost touch with reality (psychosis) due to confusion and memory loss (dementia). REXULTI is not approved for the treatment of patients with dementia-related psychosis.

Antidepressant medicines may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, or young adults within the first few months of treatment. Depression and other serious mental illnesses are the most important causes of suicidal thoughts or actions. Some people may have a particularly high risk of having suicidal thoughts or actions. Patients on antidepressants and their families or caregivers should watch for new or worsening depression symptoms, especially sudden changes in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. This is very important when an antidepressant medicine is started or when the dose is changed. Report any changes in these symptoms immediately to the doctor. REXULTI is not approved for the treatment of people younger than 18 years of age.

Do not take REXULTI if you are allergic to brexpiprazole or any of the ingredients in REXULTI. Allergic reactions have included rash, facial swelling, hives and itching, and anaphylaxis, which may include difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, and swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue.

REXULTI may cause serious side effects, including:

  • Stroke in elderly people (cerebrovascular problems) that can lead to death.
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS): Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms: high fever, stiff muscles, confusion, sweating, changes in pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure. These may be symptoms of a rare and serious condition that can lead to death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these symptoms.
  • Uncontrolled body movements (tardive dyskinesia). REXULTI may cause movements that you cannot control in your face, tongue or other body parts. Tardive dyskinesia may not go away, even if you stop taking REXULTI. Tardive dyskinesia may also start after you stop taking REXULTI.
  • Problems with your metabolism such as:
    • high blood sugar (hyperglycemia): Increases in blood sugar can happen in some people who take REXULTI. Extremely high blood sugar can lead to coma or death. If you have diabetes or risk factors for diabetes (such as being overweight or having a family history of diabetes), your healthcare provider should check your blood sugar before you start taking REXULTI and during your treatment.
      Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms of high blood sugar while taking REXULTI:
  • feel very thirsty
  • feel very hungry
  • feel sick to your stomach
  • feel weak or tired
  • need to urinate more than usual
  • feel confused, or your breath smells fruity
    • increased fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) in your blood.
    • weight gain. You and your healthcare provider should check your weight regularly.
  • Unusual urges. Some people taking REXULTI have had unusual urges, such as gambling, binge eating or eating that you cannot control (compulsive), compulsive shopping and sexual urges.

    If you or your family members notice that you are having unusual urges or behaviors, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Decreased blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension). You may feel lightheaded or faint when you rise too quickly from a sitting or lying position.
  • Seizures (convulsions)
  • Problems controlling your body temperature so that you feel too warm. Avoid getting over-heated or dehydrated while taking REXULTI.
    • Do not over-exercise.
    • Stay out of the sun. Do not wear too much or heavy clothing.
    • In hot weather, stay inside in a cool place if possible.
    • Drink plenty of water.
  • Difficulty swallowing that can cause food or liquid to get into your lungs.

Do not drive a car, operate machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how REXULTI affects you. REXULTI may make you feel drowsy.

Before taking REXULTI, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have diabetes or high blood sugar or a family history of diabetes or high blood sugar. Your healthcare provider should check your blood sugar before you start REXULTI and during your treatment.
  • have high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, or low levels of HDL cholesterol
  • have or had seizures (convulsions)
  • have or had low or high blood pressure
  • have or had heart problems or a stroke
  • have or had a low white blood cell count
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if REXULTI may harm your unborn baby. Using REXULTI in the last trimester of pregnancy may cause muscle movement problems, medicine withdrawal symptoms, or both of these in your newborn.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if REXULTI passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will take REXULTI or breastfeed.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take or recently have taken, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.

REXULTI and other medicines may affect each other causing possible serious side effects. REXULTI may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how REXULTI works.

Your healthcare provider can tell you if it is safe to take REXULTI with your other medicines. Do not start or stop any medicines while taking REXULTI without talking to your healthcare provider first.

The most common side effects of REXULTI include weight gain and an inner sense of restlessness such as feeling like you need to move.

Tell your healthcare provider if you experience abnormal muscle spasms or contractions, which may be a sign of a condition called dystonia.

These are not all the possible side effects of REXULTI. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about your health or medicines, including side effects.

You are encouraged to report side effects of REXULTI (brexpiprazole). Please contact Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. at 1-800-438-9927 or FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (www.fda.gov/medwatch).

Please read U.S. FULL PRESCRIBING INFORMATION, including BOXED WARNING, and MEDICATION GUIDE, for REXULTI.

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