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SSRIs Do Not Worsen Parkinson's Disease: Evidence from an Open-Label, Prospective Study

Dell'Agnello, Grazia*; Ceravolo, Roberto*; Nuti, Angelo*; Bellini, Giovanna*; Piccinni, Armando; D'Avino, Carla*; Dell'Osso, Liliana; Bonuccelli, Ubaldo*

Original Articles
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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been reported to be useful in the treatment of depression in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). However, a few reports have suggested that SSRIs may worsen parkinsonian motor symptomatology and extrapyramidal side effects have been reported in depressed patients treated with SSRIs. So far, no prospective trial comparing the effects of different SSRIs in depressed patients with PD has been performed. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of four SSRIs (citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline) on motor performance and their efficacy on depression in a group of patients with PD. Sixty-two consecutive nondemented, nonfluctuating, depressed patients with PD were included in four treatment groups (15 patiens received citalopram, 16 fluoxetine, 16 fluvoxamine, and 15 sertraline). The evaluation of extrapyramidal and depressive symptomatology was performed with use of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), Beck Depression Inventory, and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale at baseline and after 1, 3, and 6 months. Fifty-two patients completed the study. UPDRS scores were not significantly modified by the add-on therapy with each of the SSRIs studied. A significant improvement in depressive symptoms from baseline to the end of the trial was obtained with all SSRIs (Beck and Hamilton scores improving;p < 0.05 according to an analysis of variance). Our findings suggest that SSRIs do not significantly worsen extrapyramidal symptomatology and may ameliorate depression in patients with PD.

Department of *Neuroscience, Clinical Neurology, and Department of †Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Italy

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ubaldo Bonuccelli, Department of Neuroscience, Clinical Neurology, University of Pisa, via Roma 67, 56126 Pisa, Italy.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.