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December 1997

Fluoxetine and Impulsive Aggressive Behavior in Personality-Disordered Subjects

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, MCP ◆ Hahnemann School of Medicine, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Philadelphia, Pa.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(12):1081-1088. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830240035005

Background:  Evidence of an inverse relationship between central serotonergic (serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine]) system function and impulsive aggressive behavior has been accumulating for more than 2 decades. If so, pharmacological enhancement of serotonin activity should be expected to reduce impulsive aggressive behavior in subjects in whom this behavior is prominent.

Methods:  A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the selective serotonin-uptake inhibitor fluoxetine hydrochloride was conducted in 40 nonmajor-depressed, nonbipolar or schizophrenic, DSM-III-R personality—disordered individuals with current histories of impulsive aggressive behavior and irritability. Measures included the Overt Aggression Scale—Modified for Outpatients, Clinical Global Impression Rating of Improvement, and several secondary measures of aggression, depression, and anxiety.

Results:  Fluoxetine, but not placebo, treatment resulted in a sustained reduction in scores on the lrritability and Aggression subscales of the Overt Aggression Scale—Modified for Outpatients that was first apparent during months 2 and 3 of treatment, respectively. Fluoxetine was superior to placebo in the proportion of "responders" on the Clinical Global Impression Rating of Improvement: first at the end of month 1, and then finally demonstrating a sustained drug-placebo difference from the end of month 2 through the end of month 3 of treatment. These results were not influenced by secondary measures of depression, anxiety, or alcohol use.

Conclusion:  Fluoxetine treatment has an antiaggressive effect on impulsive aggressive individuals with DSM-III-R personality disorder.

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