Long-Term Paroxetine Benefits Elderly with Depression

Maintenance therapy reduces chances of having another depressive episode

WEDNESDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients with depression who respond to paroxetine and psychotherapy are less likely to have another episode when they receive two-year maintenance therapy with paroxetine, according to a report in the March 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Charles F. Reynolds III, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, and colleagues studied 116 depressed patients aged 70 or older who responded to treatment with paroxetine and psychotherapy. The patients were randomized to one of four maintenance treatments for two years or until major depression recurred: paroxetine or placebo plus monthly clinical management sessions, or paroxetine or placebo plus monthly psychotherapy.

Fewer patients receiving paroxetine had their depression recur. Thirty-five percent of patients on paroxetine plus psychotherapy and 37 percent on paroxetine plus clinical management had another episode, compared with 68 percent on placebo plus psychotherapy and 58 percent on placebo plus clinical management. Patients receiving a placebo had a 2.4-fold higher risk of recurrence than those taking paroxetine. Patients who were in better medical condition benefited more from paroxetine.

"Patients 70 years of age or older with major depression who had a response to initial treatment with paroxetine and psychotherapy were less likely to have recurrent depression if they received two years of maintenance therapy with paroxetine," Reynolds and colleagues conclude.

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