Effective treatment of poststroke depression with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram.
The aim of the study was to investigate the efficacy and safety of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram in treating poststroke depression, since available treatments are usually poorly tolerated.
A 6-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was undertaken. Diagnosis and outcome were determined using the Hamilton Depression Scale, and unwanted effects were measured using the UKU side effect rating scale. Sixty-six consecutive depressed patients from an unselected population of 285 stroke patients aged 25 to 80 years entered the trial 2 to 52 weeks after stroke. They were assigned to equally sized treatment and placebo groups. The initial level of depression was comparable in the two groups (mean baseline Hamilton Depression scores, 19.4 and 18.9, respectively). Demographic parameters were also comparable in the two groups.
Significantly greater improvement was seen in patients treated with citalopram (10 to 40 mg/d) for 3 and 6 weeks, both when including all patients (intention-to-treat analysis, P < .05) and excluding patients who dropped out during the first 3 weeks (efficacy analysis, P < .005). Half of the 28 patients who entered the trial 2 to 6 weeks after stroke recovered within 1 month, independent of the treatment given. This indicates a high degree of spontaneous recovery in the early phase after stroke. In contrast, recovery was infrequent in placebo group patients who became depressed 7 weeks or more after stroke. No serious side effects related to the treatment were detected; those present were mild and usually transient.
This trial demonstrates that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram offers an advantageous new treatment of poststroke depression that is both safe and effective.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association