Few therapeutic options are available for patients with electroconvulsive therapy–resistant major depressive disorder (ECT-r MDD), leaving a substantial proportion of this population beyond treatment possibilities. The combination of monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants could be a potential strategy for managing ECT-r MDD, and the specific association of amitriptyline and tranylcypromine may offer additional tolerability advantages. Although promising, in our knowledge, no studies have examined until now the effectiveness of this combination in ECT-r MDD.
We report a retrospective cohort of 31 patients with ECT-r MDD treated in an open-label fashion with the combination of amitriptyline and tranylcypromine.
Overall, 80.6% of the sample met response criteria at the end of the first 12 weeks of treatment. Seventy-six percent (19 of 25) of the responders were followed for a mean of 9.37 ± 3.86 years. During this follow-up period, none of the patients had a recurring depressive episode. The combination was well tolerated, whereas minor adverse effects were common, and no severe or life-threatening events were reported throughout the study.
These findings indicate that the combination tranylcypromine and amitriptyline is a potentially safe and effective candidate for future investigation in the treatment and long-term maintenance of ECT-r MDD.