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J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1986 Jun;6(3):172-6.

Pretreatment orthostatic hypotension as a predictor of response to nortriptyline in geriatric depression.


The consequences of orthostatic hypotension, a serious and common problem among the elderly, are falls, transient ischemic attacks, strokes, and myocardial infarctions. Depressed elderly taking tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are at increased risk, and the pretreatment presence of orthostatic hypotension is considered a relative contraindication to TCA treatment. Recently, it was reported that the presence of pretreatment orthostatic hypotension in geriatric outpatients with unipolar depression predicted good clinical response to imipramine or doxepin. We investigated the predictive value of pretreatment systolic orthostatic pressure changes (PSOP) in unipolar depressed elderly outpatients (mean age, 64) who were to receive a 16-week course of nortriptyline or interpersonal psychotherapy. Overall, PSOP was significantly correlated with improvement on both the Beck Depression Inventory and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Although both groups responded equally to treatment, PSOP was more strongly correlated with improvement on the Beck Depression Inventory (r = 0.74, p less than 0.01) in the nortriptyline-treated group than in the group treated with interpersonal therapy (r = 0.31, not significant). The nortriptyline-treated subjects with a PSOP of greater than or equal to 10 mm Hg had a greater improvement than those with a PSOP of less than 10 mm HG (t = -2.36, p less than 0.05). No episodes of symptomatic orthostatic hypotension occurred in the nortriptyline-treated subjects. The results suggest that orthostatic hypotension, a relative contraindication to TCA use, may potentially identify patients more likely to respond to TCAs.

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