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Depress Anxiety. 1997;6(1):10-8.

Are SSRIs better than TCAs? Comparison of SSRIs and TCAs: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


In this analysis we examined studies of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to compare efficacy and drop-out rates. Frequency of reported side effects was also studied. Using Medline, we located 36 clinical trials of TCAs and SSRIs in a double-blind comparison. We performed a meta-analysis on these studies and on a subgroup of 21 studies that had more uniformly defined outcome criteria. The main outcome measures were efficacy for treatment completers and for the intention-to-treat group; drop-out rates due to adverse reactions and lack of efficacy; and reported side effects. Overall, the response rate to treatment for patients who completed a trial was 63.2% for SSRIs and 68.2% for TCAs (P = 0.038). For the intention-to-treat groups, these rates dropped to 48.0 and 48.6% (P, NS), respectively. Significantly more TCA-treated than SSRI-treated subjects dropped out due to either lack of efficacy or adverse reactions (30.0 vs. 24.7%, P = 0.01). Patients taking SSRIs experienced significantly more gastrointestinal problems and sexual dysfunction, whereas treatment with TCAs produced significantly more complaints of sedation, dizziness, and anticholinergic symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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