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J Clin Psychiatry. 1992 May;53(5):153-6.

Methylphenidate as a treatment for depression in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: an n-of-1 trial.

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Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center, Portland, Ore. 97210.



Uncontrolled studies report that methylphenidate effectively treats depression in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Other studies report that methylphenidate improves cognition in patients with dementia stemming from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled n-of-1 trial to learn whether methylphenidate was an effective treatment for depression in an outpatient with mild HIV dementia.


The patient received either placebo or drug in a double-blinded fashion in increasing doses in each of three 2-week phases (A = placebo, B = methylphenidate, C = placebo). Blinded outcomes of depression and cognition were measured initially and twice in each phase. Depression was measured using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) and a mood self-assessment scale. Cognition was measured using the digit span (forward and backward subtest of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised, Trail-Making Tests A and B, and the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT).


HAM-D scores improved during the methylphenidate phase (initial = 33; A = 23, 25; B = 15, 10; C = 28, 27), as did the subjective mood assessment ratings. Digit span backward scores improved with the drug (initial = 4; A = 4, 3; B = 6, 8; C = 5, 4), as did Trail-Making Test B scores (initial = 125 seconds; A = 133, 103 seconds; B = 86, 82 seconds; C = 88, 96 seconds). Digit span forward, SDMT, and Trail-Making Test A, however, showed no drug-related trend.


We conclude that methylphenidate was beneficial in the treatment of depression in this patient with AIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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