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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2004 Oct;19(10):989-94.

An open trial of venlafaxine for the treatment of late-life atypical depression.

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New York State Psychiatric Institute, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York 10032, USA.



The atypical subtype in patients with major depressive disorder is characterized by mood reactivity, significant weight gain or increase in appetite, hypersomnia, leaden paralysis and a long-standing pattern of interpersonal rejection sensitivity. Though atypical depression is well documented in younger patients, little attention has been paid to the atypical subtype in samples of late-life depressed patients. This study reports the patient characteristics and treatment results of an eight-week open-label trial of venlafaxine in a sample of older depressed patients with atypical subtype.


Patients received fixed dosing schedule (up to 300 mg/day) of venlafaxine (Effexor XR) for 8 weeks.


In this sample of 17 patients, the mean age was 65.6 years and 77% were female. Most strikingly, 53% of patients presented with late-onset atypical depression defined as first episode after the age of 50. Fifteen of the 17 patients (88%) completed the eight-week treatment trial. The mean score on the HRSD 24-item decreased from 22.2 +/- 5.1 at baseline to 11.8 +/- 8.9 (p<0.001), and the mean total atypical item score decreased from 6.2 +/- 1.6 to 2.8 +/- 2.0 (p < 0.001). Remission was defined as a final HRSD < or = 10 and a 50% reduction in baseline HRSD score. The intent-to-treat remission rate was 65% and the completer remission rate was 73%.


In this sample of late-life patients with atypical depression venlafaxine treatment was reasonably effective and well tolerated. However, the effectiveness of venlafaxine in this study must be considered in the context that this was an open trial of antidepressant medication. Insufficient attention has been given to the atypical subtype in late-life depression. Whether late-onset atypical depression is significantly different from early-onset atypical depression, and whether late-onset patients with atypical depression are significantly different from late-onset patients with other depressive subtypes are questions of compelling interest.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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