Patients with clinically significant anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are assigned to antidepressant treatment. The discontinuation of antidepressants can increase the risk of relapse, but there is no concrete evidence to verify this theory. This study aims to evaluate the risk of relapse after discontinuation of antidepressants in patients with anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD.

This systematic review and meta-analysis of relapse prevention trials included a total of 28 eligible studies that included a total of 5,233 patients with anxiety disorder, OCD, or PTSD who responded to antidepressants. The primary outcome of the study was to examine the risk of relapse after discontinuing antidepressant treatment. 

The findings indicated a low risk of bias. The discontinuation of the treatment was associated with increased odds of relapse as compared with continuing the treatment (OR 3.11). Meta-regression and subgroup analyses exhibited no statistically significant outcomes. The summary relapse prevalence was 16.4% for the antidepressant group, as compared with 36.4% for the placebo group.

The research concluded that the discontinuation of antidepressant treatment was associated with a higher risk of relapse in patients with anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD, as compared with those who continued the treatment.