Background: Augmentation with second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) represents an evidence-based psychopharmacotherapeutic strategy recommended in case of insufficient response to the first-line antidepressant (AD) treatment in major depressive disorder (MDD). Comparative evidence regarding efficacy and prescription preferences of the individual SGAs is scarce. Methods: In the scope of this European, multi-site, naturalistic cross-sectional investigation with retrospective assessment of treatment outcome, we compared sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of 187 MDD patients receiving either quetiapine (n = 150) or aripiprazole (n = 37) as augmentation of their first-line AD psychopharmacotherapy. Results: Comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and diabetes were significantly associated with aripiprazole augmentation in our primary and post-hoc binary logistic regression analyses. Furthermore, we identified an association between aripiprazole co-administration and the presence of additional psychotic features, higher rates of AD combination treatment, and a longer duration of psychiatric hospitalizations during the lifetime, which, however, lost significance after correcting for multiple comparisons. Regarding treatment outcome, we found a trend of higher response rates and greater reductions in severity of depressive symptoms in MDD patients dispensed quetiapine. Conclusions: Factors associated with a more chronic and severe profile of MDD seem to encourage clinicians to choose aripiprazole over quetiapine, that was, however, administered in the majority of our MDD patients, which might reflect the current approval situation allowing to prescribe exclusively quetiapine as on-label augmentation in MDD in Europe. Given the retrospective assessment of treatment response, the markedly smaller proportion of patients receiving aripiprazole augmentation generally showing an unfavorable disease profile, and the partially heterogeneous statistical robustness of our findings, further studies are required to elaborate on our observation and to generate unambiguous recommendations regarding the choice of first-line SGA augmentation in MDD.
- Antidepressant treatment
- Major depressive disorder
- Second-generation antipsychotics