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October 1988

How Effective and Safe Is Continuation Therapy in Elderly Depressed Patients?Factors Affecting Relapse Rate

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry (Drs Georgotas and McCue) and the Depression Studies Program (Drs Georgotas, McCue, and Nagachandran and Ms Chang), New York University School of Medicine; Department of Clinical Psychopharmacology in Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York (Mr Cooper); and Analytical Psychopharmacology Laboratory, Nathan Kline Institute and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York (Mr Cooper).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(10):929-932. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800340057008

• Sixty elderly depressed patients who had responded to either nortriptyline hydrochloride or phenelzine sulfate were followed up under double-blind conditions during four to eight months of continuation treatment. Over 70% of patients (43) remained well during this period, while 11 (18.3%) had relapses, three (5.0%) dropped out because of side effects, and three (5.0%) prematurely terminated in good clinical condition. There was no significant difference in the relapse rate between patients receiving nortriptyline (five [16.7%]) and those receiving phenelzine (six [20.0%]). Patients receiving phenelzine were more likely to require dose reductions, and all three patients who dropped out because of side effects were receiving phenelzine. Patients with chronic depression (greater than two years' duration) accounted for all of the relapses.