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West J Med. 1977 May;126(5):347-52.

Subtypes of depression--diagnosis and medical management.


Depression is both a common and a greatly undertreated illness in the United States today. The focus of this review is a definition of the characteristics of four subtypes of depression which appear to be differentially sensitive to four different classes of medications. The tricyclic antidepressants should be used for patients with unipolar depression and vegetative symptoms. Lithium appears to be most effective for bipolar depressives. The monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors are best used for patients with atypical depression. Antipsychotic medications appear to be useful for depressed patients with psychotic symptoms or agitation. Recent pharmacokinetic and biochemical data, including serum lithium levels, plasma tricyclic levels, and the predictive ability of pretreatment urinary 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG) levels are also reviewed.

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