Maintenance therapy for chronic depression – A controlled clinical trial of desipramine

Department of Psychiatry, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, New York, USA.
Archives of General Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 10/1996; 53(9):769-74; discussion 775-6.
Source: PubMed


Previous studies have shown the efficacy of antidepressants in the treatment of chronic depression. We report the results of a long-term study comparing desipramine hydrochloride and placebo for maintenance therapy of remitted patients with chronic depression.
Outpatients who met DSM-III-R diagnostic criteria for "pure" dysthymia (n = 51), dysthymia with current major depression ("double depression") (n = 64), or chronic major depression (n = 14) were treated on an open basis with desipramine. Full and partial remitters after 10 weeks entered a continuation phase of open treatment with desipramine for 16 weeks. Remitted patients then were randomized to continue desipramine treatment or tapered to placebo treatment for a maintenance phase of up to 2 years. Relapse rates and time to relapse during maintenance therapy were compared between the two treatment groups.
Acute-phase treatment results did not differ significantly according to chronic depression subtype. Remission persisted with a high degree of stability during the continuation phase. Relapse rates during the maintenance phase were 52% for the placebo group and 11% for the active desipramine group (chi 2 = 8.1, P = .004). Most placebo relapses occurred during the first 6 months of maintenance therapy. Active medication was significantly more effective than placebo in that subgroup entering the maintenance phase in full remission and in those patients who fulfilled criteria for a diagnosis of pure dysthymia or double depression on entry to the study.
Long-term maintenance treatment with desipramine appeared to be effective in the prevention or postponement of relapse of depression in patients who responded to desipramine during the acute and continuation phases.

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Available from: John C Markowitz, Oct 11, 2015
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    • "Forty-six papers met inclusion criteria, constituting 49 samples and 3,454 patients (Klerman et al., 1974; Coppen et al., 1978; Stein et al., 1980; van Praag and de Haan, 1980; Davidson and Raft, 1984; Harrison et al., 1986; Montgomery et al., 1988, 1993, 1998, 2004; Georgotas et al., 1989; Robinson et al., 1991; Doogan and Caillard, 1992; Claghorn and Feighner, 1993; Montgomery and Dunbar, 1993; Anton et al., 1994; Robert and Montgomery, 1995; Bremner and Smith, 1996; Entsuah et al., 1996; Kocsis et al., 1996, 2007; Stewart et al., 1997; Keller et al., 1998; Reimherr et al., 1998; Terra and Montgomery, 1998; Reynolds et al., 1999; Alexopoulos et al., 2000; Rouillon et al., 2000; Schmidt et al., 2000; Gilaberte et al., 2001; Hochstrasser et al., 2001; Klysner et al., 2002; Wilson et al., 2003; Detke et al., 2004; Simon et al., 2004; Amsterdam and Bodkin, 2006; Kamijima et al., 2006; Lustman et al., 2006; McGrath et al., 2006; Perahia et al., 2006, 2009; Gorwood et al., 2007; Cheung et al., 2008; Dobson et al., 2008; Emslie et al., 2008; Rickels et al., 2010). The information extracted from each study is listed in Table A1 in the Appendix. "
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    • "forms of major depressive disorders (MDDs; Greden, 2001; Keller et al., 1998; Kocsis et al., 1996; Kupfer et al., 1992). In contrast, few studies have examined the efficacy of continuation and maintenance psychotherapy for depression (Rush & Thase, 1998). "
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