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A randomized, single-blind, comparison of venlafaxine with paroxetine in elderly patients suffering from resistant depression

Mazeh, Dorona b; Shahal, Barucha b; Aviv, Alexa b; Zemishlani, Hannaa b; Barak, Yorama b

International Clinical Psychopharmacology: November 2007 - Volume 22 - Issue 6 - p 371-375
doi: 10.1097/YIC.0b013e32817396ae

It is estimated that up to 45% of patients with depression do not have an adequate response to a first trial of antidepressant therapy with even higher reported rates for the elderly patients. To compare the efficacy and the tolerability of venlafaxine vs. paroxetine in elderly patients suffering from resistant major depression, who did not respond to at least two previous adequate trials of antidepressants. Patients entered an 8-week single-blind study. Patients were rated using the Clinical Global Impression Scale, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Geriatric Depression Scale. Assessments were performed at baseline and on days 7, 14, 21, 28, 42 and 56. Side effects were recorded in a systemic manner. Thirty patients were included in the study, (17 women, 13 men; mean age=75.9 years, range: 68–83) and all had completed the 6-week trial. Mean dose of venlafaxine used was 165 mg/day (SD=73.8; range 75–300 mg). Mean dose of paroxetine used was 26 mg/day (SD=15.04; range 10–60 mg). Nine patients treated with venlafaxine (60%) and five patients treated with paroxetine (33%) remitted after 8 weeks of treatment. Four patients treated with venlafaxine and eight patients treated with paroxetine failed to respond. Significant improvement in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores between baseline and endpoint were observed in both groups of patients. The mean Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression change for paroxetine was −12.5 and for venlafaxine −19.1 (P<0.05). The mean Geriatric Depression Scale change for paroxetine was −3.2 and for venlafaxine −6.0 (P<0.3). The mean Clinical Global Impression Scale change was −2.3 for paroxetine and −3.5 for venlafaxine (P<0.05). Venlafaxine was significantly superior to paroxetine on Clinical Global Impression Scale and Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression measures. Side effects were transient and did not differ between treatment groups. Elderly depressed patients resistant to previous treatments had responded to a trial of paroxetine or venlafaxine. Remission rates were higher for venlafaxine and tolerability was acceptable for both compounds.

aAbarbanel Mental Health Center, Bat-Yam

bThe Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Correspondence to Dr Doron Mazeh, MD, Psychogeriatric Ward A, Y. Abarbanel Mental Health Center, 15 Keren Kayemet St. Bat-Yam 59100, Israel

Tel: +972 3 5552758; fax: +972 3 5552789; e-mail:

Received 2 September 2006 Accepted 15 March 2007

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.