New guidelines for clinical care and treatment of depression offer accessible, evidence-based treatment options and recommendations for medical and mental health professionals in Canada. The clinical guidelines, from the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT), present rigorous systematic reviews of the most current peer-reviewed research on depression, and reflect the scientific and clinical expertise of a wide range of Canadian health and research professionals.

CANMAT has been producing internationally-recognized guidelines for treating mood and anxiety disorders since 2001; the 2016 iteration is the first significant update since 2009 of the guidelines for depression, which is formally known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

“We wrote the guidelines in collaboration with a team of Canadian researchers, pharmacology experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other clinicians,” explains Dr. Raymond Lam, who co-led the team along with Dr. Sidney Kennedy of the University of Toronto.

“The updates reflect the most current research we have available for best practices in treating individuals with MDD, including revised criteria for screening, identification, and diagnosis. We also look at newer treatments that are currently available and how they compare with existing ones,” says Dr. Lam. “It was quite a bit work coordinating nearly 50 authors, but we are very pleased with the final product, which attests to the stellar acumen and collaborative spirit of diverse Canadian experts from coast to coast.”

The guidelines, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, include six distinct sections and provide practical tips for clinicians, as well as current advice on psychological, pharmacological, neurostimulation, and complementary and alternative medicine treatments. Other sections summarize current evidence on the prevalence and societal burden of MDD, principles of clinical management, and special populations such as children, women, and the elderly.

While the primary audience for the guidelines is mental health professionals, the CANMAT team is working to make them accessible to lay audiences, including people with lived experience of MDD, and community-based groups. In addition to an upcoming Continuing Professional Development (CPD) conference on November 5, 2016, plans for a pocket guide and a point-of-care mobile app are underway.

The CANMAT 2016 Guidelines for MDD will be officially launched by Drs. Lam and Kennedy and colleagues this week, at the 66th Annual Conference of the Canadian Psychiatric Association in Toronto.