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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;17(7):619-22.

Prophylactic therapy with lithium in elderly patients with unipolar major depression.

Author information

  • 1MARC, Elderly Mental Health Directorate, Moorgreen Hospital, Southampton. Dwilk2000@aol.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To compare the relapse rate of elderly depressed patients taking low dose lithium as an additional therapy with antidepressant medication to those receiving antidepressant medication alone.

METHODS:

Fifty elderly subjects recovering from a major depressive illness taking continuation antidepressants were randomised, in a double blind study, to receive additional lithium carbonate or placebo and followed up over a two year period for evidence of relapse.

RESULTS:

Relapse rate was significantly greater in those subjects taking antidepressant medication alone compared to subjects taking additional lithium therapy. After six months four (17%) subjects taking antidepressant medication alone had relapsed, whereas none of the subjects taking additional lithium had relapsed. After two years eight (33%) subjects taking antidepressant medication alone had relapsed, whereas only one (4%) of the subjects taking additional lithium had relapsed.

CONCLUSION:

This preliminary study suggests that long-term low dose lithium therapy is well tolerated and protects elderly patients from a relapse of depressive illness.

Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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PMID:
12112158
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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