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Depress Anxiety. 2001;13(3):125-31.

Nonresponse to first-line pharmacotherapy may predict relapse and recurrence of remitted geriatric depression.

Author information

1
Geriatric Psychiatry Program, the Toronto General Hospital, 8 Eaton North, Room 238, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2C4, Canada. alastair.flint@uhn.on.ca

Abstract

The authors examined whether nonresponse to first-line pharmacotherapy was associated with an increased probability of relapse or recurrence following remission of an episode of geriatric depression. The study group consisted of 74 elderly patients whose index episode of nonpsychotic unipolar major depression had responded to antidepressant pharmacotherapy. In 6 of these patients, the depressive episode had not responded to first-line pharmacotherapy (8 weeks of nortriptyline, including 2 weeks of adjunctive lithium) but it had responded to second-line treatment (phenelzine with or without adjunctive lithium). The 74 patients were maintained on acute doses of the medications that had led to response and were followed for 2 years or until relapse or recurrence, whichever occurred first. The cumulative probability of relapse or recurrence was 67% for patients who responded to second-line treatment compared with 18% for patients who responded to first-line treatment (P = 0.0003). As expected, mean time to response was significantly longer for patients who responded to second-line treatment but this factor did not account for the difference in outcome between the two groups. These findings suggest that pharmacotherapy resistance may constitute a risk factor for relapse or recurrence of remitted geriatric depression, even when patients are maintained on the medication that they eventually respond to.

PMID:
11387732
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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