Nefazodone Treatment of Major Depression in Alcohol-Dependent Patients: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
Depression is the most common comorbid psychiatric illness in patients with alcohol dependence. This double-blind study tested the efficacy of nefazodone versus placebo for the treatment of depression in actively drinking alcohol-dependent patients who were also participating in weekly group treatment for alcoholism. Sixty-four subjects with major depression disorder and alcohol dependence with a history of at least one prior episode of depression when not drinking were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks of either nefazodone or placebo and participated in a weekly psychoeducational group on alcoholism. Subjects were assessed every 2 weeks for depression, anxiety, side effects, and drinking frequency. Subjects taking nefazodone were significantly more likely to complete the study (62%) than those taking placebo (34%). Analyses of covariance using drinks per week as a time-dependent covariate showed lower Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores at week 8 for end-point analysis and at weeks 8 and 12 for completers. The endpoint analysis demonstrated a significantly greater response in the nefazodone group (48%) than in the placebo group (16%). Both groups showed a similarly significant decrease in the average number of alcoholic drinks consumed per day over the course of the study. Although the number of adverse effects was significantly greater for the nefazodone group, there were no severe adverse events, and nefazodone was well tolerated. Nefazodone is a safe and effective antidepressant to use in a population of alcohol-dependent patients with depression who have a high degree of comorbidity. Nefazodone treatment was superior to placebo in alleviating depression in these patients but did not add any advantage over the psychoeducational group in terms of drinking outcomes.
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