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The goal of acute treatment of an individual with major depressive disorder is to identify a medication or psychotherapy that is effective and treat the individual vigorously enough to help him or her achieve remission. Recently, most of our understanding of acute treatment has been derived from Phase II and Phase III industry-sponsored studies of antidepressants. Many of these short-term studies were designed to differentiate an investigational compound from placebo. The goal of these trials was not to achieve disease remission but rather to demonstrate that the investigational compound was more efficacious than a placebo compound.

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