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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;18(2):154-62. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181beab1e.

Improving depression and enhancing resilience in family dementia caregivers: a pilot randomized placebo-controlled trial of escitalopram.

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Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, University of California, Los Angeles, Semel Institute for Neuroscience, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.



This study examined the potential of an antidepressant drug, escitalopram, to improve depression, resilience to stress, and quality of life in family dementia caregivers in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blinded trial.


Forty family caregivers (43-91 years of age, 25 children and 15 spouses; 26 women) who were taking care of their relatives with Alzheimer disease were randomized to receive either escitalopram 10 mg/day or placebo for 12 weeks. Severity of depression, resilience, burden, distress, quality of life, and severity of care-recipient's cognitive and behavioral disturbances were assessed at baseline and over the course of the study. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores at baseline ranged between 10 and 28. The groups were stratified by the diagnosis of major and minor depression.


Most outcomes favored escitalopram over placebo. The severity of depression improved, and the remission rate was greater with the drug compared with placebo. Measures of anxiety, resilience, burden, and distress improved on escitalopram compared with placebo.


Among caregivers, this small randomized controlled trial found that escitalopram use resulted in improvement in depression, resilience, burden and distress, and quality of life. Our results need to be confirmed in a larger sample.

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