The results of a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, one of the National Institutes of Health, were recently published by its lead author, McGowan Institute faculty member Mary Amanda Dew, PhD, professor of psychiatry, psychology and epidemiology at Pitt. In the paper appearing in the June issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, it was noted that older adults with depression may benefit from a second medication if the first-line antidepressant doesn't prove adequate. The aim of the study was to examine the likelihood, speed, and predictors of recovery in older adults receiving additional pharmacotherapy after an inadequate response to standardized treatment with paroxetine plus interpersonal psychotherapy.
Even with adequate antidepressant medications and adequate doses, up to 84% of older adults with major depressive disorder either will have inadequate responses or will respond but will relapse during the first 6 to 12 weeks of treatment. Ultimately, 20% to 30% do not achieve full recovery of their depression. These patients usually experience significant residual disability, reduced quality of life, and increased risk for all-cause mortality. Currently, studies in young and middle-aged adults have demonstrated that augmentation of an initial antidepressant with either a second antidepressant or another agent may provide the optimal response and recovery from major depression. However, there are few data available concerning the utility of augmentation in late-life depression treatment.
"Depression should not be considered a normal part of aging. The scientific evidence is growing that there are a number of effective treatment options available for people of all ages," said the McGowan Institute’s Dr. Dew.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
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