THURSDAY, May 4, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The antidepressant drug Zoloft (sertraline) may help prevent recurring depression in people with diabetes and increase the period of time between depressive episodes, a new U.S. study finds.
One in every four diabetics experiences depression, according to background information in the study.
Researchers studied 152 diabetics, averaging about 53 years of age, who had recovered from depression during treatment with Zoloft -- 79 of the patients were randomly assigned to receive Zoloft and 73 were given a placebo. The patients were tracked for a year or until their depression recurred.
After one year, just under 66 percent of the patients taking Zoloft remained in remission from depression, compared with about 48 percent of patients taking placebo. The amount of time that passed before depression recurred in one-third of the patients increased from 57 days among those taking placebo to 226 days among the patients taking the drug.
The study was funded by drug maker Pfizer Inc., which makes Zoloft, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
"Our study establishes a clear benefit of sertraline for prevention of depression recurrence in patients with diabetes," the study authors wrote.
"Sertraline lengthened the depression-free interval of maintenance and did not interfere with glycemic improvement achieved during the recovery phase. Treatment with sertraline is relatively simple, safe and widely available, and although it is not curative, it offers patients with diabetes a potentially viable method for ameliorating the suffering, incapacity and burden associated with recurrent depression," the authors concluded.
Zoloft is one of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressants, which also includes brands such as Celexa, Paxil and Prozac.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about diabetes and depression.