Response Acceleration With Mirtazapine Augmentation of Citalopram in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Patients Without Comorbid Depression

Institute for Neurosciences, Florence, Italy.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.5). 11/2004; 65(10):1394-9. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.v65n1015
Source: PubMed


Therapeutic action of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is delayed from 8 to 12 weeks in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Several different agents have been tested to reduce the SSRI therapeutic latency time. Mirtazapine, an antagonist at alpha2-adrenoceptors, does not enhance serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission directly but disinhibits the norepinephrine activation of 5-HT neurons and thereby increases 5-HT neurotransmission by a mechanism that may not require a time-dependent desensitization of receptors. The present study was undertaken to determine whether the mirtazapine-citalopram combination could induce an earlier and/or greater effect on the 5-HT system in OCD subjects than citalopram alone.
Forty-nine patients with OCD (DSM-IV) without comorbid depression were randomly assigned to a 2-tailed, single-blind, 12-week clinical trial with citalopram (20-80 mg/day) plus placebo or citalopram plus mirtazapine (15-30 mg/day). Assessments were performed weekly with the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS), the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Clinical Global Impressions scale. Data were collected from November 2001 to July 2003.
The citalopram plus mirtazapine group achieved a reduction of at least 35% in YBOCS score and a "much improved" or "very much improved" rating on the Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale from the fourth week, while the citalopram plus placebo group obtained these results only from the eighth week. The number of responders was higher in the citalopram plus mirtazapine group at the fourth week of treatment, while no difference between groups in the response rate was noted at the eighth and twelfth weeks of treatment.
We found an earlier onset of response action in OCD symptoms and reduced undesired side effects when mirtazapine was added to citalopram. This augmentation strategy deserves clinical and research consideration through further double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.

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    • "Because mirtazapine is often chosen as an augmentation therapy of SSRIs for major depression,5–7 mirtazapine augmentation of SSRIs also seems promising for treatment-resistant anxiety disorders, but only one single-blind study reported that adding mirtazapine to citalopram resulted in a faster onset of efficacy for obsessive-compulsive disorder.8 As mentioned above, because the pharmacological profile of mirtazapine is quite different from those of SSRIs,4 the addition of mirtazapine may augment the anxiolytic effect of SSRIs. "
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    ABSTRACT: Mirtazapine, a noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant, which blocks the α2-adrenergic autoreceptors and heteroreceptors, has shown anxiolytic properties in clinical trials and preclinical animal experiments. The addition of mirtazapine to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is clinically suggested to be more effective for anxiety disorders. In this study, we examined the combined effects of mirtazapine and citalopram, an SSRI, on the freezing behavior of rats, which was induced by contextual conditioned fear as an index of anxiety or fear. Male Sprague Dawley rats individually received footshocks in a shock chamber, and 24 hours later, they were given citalopram and/or mirtazapine injections. One hour after citalopram and 30 minutes after mirtazapine administration, freezing behavior was analyzed in the same shock chamber without shocks. Mirtazapine decreased freezing in a dose-dependent manner, which is consistent with a previous report; it also enhanced an anxiolytic-like effect at a high dose (30 mg/kg) of citalopram. Because mirtazapine blocks α2-adrenoreceptors, the combined effect of atipamezole, a selective α2 receptor antagonist, with citalopram was also examined. Similar to mirtazapine, atipamezole reduced freezing dose-dependently, but the enhancement of citalopram's effects by atipamezole was not clear when compared with mirtazapine. The present findings suggest that mirtazapine has an anxiolytic-like effect and may enhance the anxiolytic-like effect of SSRIs, but this enhancement may not be explained by its anti-α2 property alone.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
    • "These results confirm and extend earlier finding, that mirtazapine, a dual action antidepressant is an effective and safe antidepressant in Indian patients of major depressive disorder for short-term augmentation and may be of more clinical utility in alleviation of anxiety symptoms and improvement of quality of life associated with depression.[21] "
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    ABSTRACT: Although antidepressant medications are effective, they have a delayed onset of effect. Mirtazapine, an atypical antidepressant is an important option for add-on therapy in major depression. There is insufficient data on mirtazapine in Indian population; hence this study was designed to study the add-on effect of low-dose mirtazapine with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in major depressive disorder (MDD) in Indian population. In an open, randomized study, 60 patients were divided into two groups. In Group A (n=30) patients received conventional SSRIs for 6 weeks. In Group B (n=30) patients received conventional SSRIs with low-dose mirtazapine for 6 weeks. Patients were evaluated at baseline and then at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 weeks. There was significant improvement in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), Montgomery and Asberg depression rating scale (MADRS) scores (P<0.05) in both groups. Mirtazapine in low dose as add on therapy showed improvement in scores, had earlier onset of action, and more number of responders and remitters as compared to conventional treatment (P<0.05). No serious adverse event was reported in either of the groups. Low-dose mirtazapine as add-on therapy has shown better efficacy, earlier onset of action and more number of responders and remitters as compared to conventional treatment in MDD in Indian patients.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · Indian Journal of Pharmacology
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    • "Nonetheless, as apparently occurred in our case, 5-HT2A stimulation may prevail on the atypical antipsychotic '5-HT2A > D2' blockade, inducing nausea eventually unresponsive to standard antiemetic medications. In such cases, a slight reduction of the SSRI dose may be made, suggesting an add-on therapy with a second antidepressant medication as the α2 antagonist, dual serotonin and norepinephrine agent (NaSSA) mirtazapine (for example, at 30 mg/day) [14], which may help in anti-obsessive and antiemetic management via 5-HT3 antagonism and 5-HT2A blockade [13,15]. Switching amisulpride to olanzapine (for example, at 10 mg/day) may also help since the antipsychotic action may be coupled to a strong 5-HT3 blockade, whereas olanzapine 5-HT2C blockade should be an optimal complement to fluoxetine in the management of affective, anxious and cognitive symptoms [13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Poor-insight obsessive-compulsive disorder (PI-OCD) is a severe form of OCD where the 'typically obsessive' features of intrusive, 'egodystonic' feelings and thoughts are absent. PI-OCD is difficult to treat, often requiring very high doses of serotonergic drugs as well as antipsychotic augmentation. When this occurs, unpleasant side effects as nausea are common, eventually further reducing compliance to medication and increasing the need for pharmacological alternatives. We present the case of a PI-OCD patient who developed severe nausea after response to off-label doses of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), fluoxetine. Drug choices are discussed, providing pharmacodynamic rationales and hypotheses along with reports of rating scale scores, administered within a follow-up period of 52 weeks. A slight reduction of fluoxetine dose, augmentation with mirtazapine and a switch from amisulpride to olanzapine led to resolution of nausea while preserving the anti-OCD therapeutic effect. Mirtazapine and olanzapine have already been suggested for OCD treatment, although a lack of evidence exists about their role in the course of PI-OCD. Both mirtazapine and olanzapine also act as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor type 3 (5-HT3) blockers, making them preferred choices especially in cases of drug-induced nausea.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Annals of General Psychiatry
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