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Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Oct;159(10):1731-7.

A randomized trial of sertraline as a cessation aid for smokers with a history of major depression.

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New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA.



Evidence that major depression can be a significant hindrance to smoking cessation prompted this examination of the usefulness of sertraline as a cessation aid for smokers with a history of major depression. Specifically, sertraline's efficacy for smoking abstinence and its effects on withdrawal symptoms were evaluated.


The study design included a 1-week placebo washout, a 9-week double-blind, placebo-controlled treatment phase followed by a 9-day taper period, and a 6-month drug-free follow-up. One hundred thirty-four smokers with a history of major depression were randomly assigned to receive sertraline (N=68) or matching placebo (N=66); all received intensive individual cessation counseling during nine clinic visits.


Sertraline treatment produced a lower total withdrawal symptom score and less irritability, anxiety, craving, and restlessness than placebo. However, the abstinence rates did not significantly differ between treatment groups: 28.8% (19 of 66) for placebo and 33.8% (23 of 68) for sertraline at the end of treatment and 16.7% (11 of 66) for placebo and 11.8% (eight of 68) for sertraline at the 6-month follow-up. No moderating effects of single or recurrent major depression, depressed mood at baseline, nicotine dependence level, or gender were observed.


Sertraline did not add to the efficacy of an intensive individual counseling program in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. However, given that the end-of-treatment abstinence rate for the placebo group was much higher than expected, it is unclear whether a ceiling effect of the high level of psychological intervention received by all subjects prevented an adequate test of sertraline.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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