A new study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that adding the drug aripiprazole, to an antidepressant medication can be more effective for older adults with clinical depression.
This may help treat depression symptoms that have not responded to standard treatments.
Aripiprazole was originally approved by the FDA in 2002 as a treatment for schizophrenia.
It has been used as an add-on treatment for clinical depression in younger patients who don’t respond to antidepressants alone.
In the study, the researchers aimed to determine which treatment strategy is more effective for older adults with treatment-resistant depression, adding aripiprazole or switching to another solo antidepressant.
The team tested 742 people, aged 60 and older, with treatment-resistant depression, who had not responded to at least two different antidepressant medications.
They found patients who continued with their original antidepressants but added aripiprazole had the best overall outcomes.
The study also included a second phase that included 248 participants.
In this phase, patients taking antidepressants such as Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft were treated with lithium or nortriptyline, medications that were widely used before newer antidepressants were approved.
The team found the rates of alleviating depression in the study’s second phase were low, about 15%.
The researchers found that even the best treatment strategy, adding aripiprazole to an antidepressant, was not markedly successful for many older patients with treatment-resistant depression.
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that antidepressants are highly helpful for most people suffering from clinical depression.
But there is still a continuing problem in the field as any given treatment is likely to help only a subset of people.
Therefore, it is important to find and develop more effective treatments that can help more people with clinical depression.
If you care about depression, please read studies about a big cause of depression for middle-aged and older adults, and Vitamin D could help reduce depression symptoms.
For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about common medications for anxiety, and results showing scientists find who will respond best to ketamine for severe depression.
The study was conducted by Eric J. Lenze et al and published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
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