The proportion of women who responded with a reduction in depressive symptoms, and those who remitted, having few depressive symptoms consistent with wellness, did not significantly differ between the two drugs at any of the study's time points. By week four, 46 percent of the participants taking sertraline had responded and 27 percent remitted, while 56 percent of those taking nortriptyline responded and 30 percent remitted. At eight weeks, 56 percent of the participants on sertraline had a reduction of symptoms and 46 percent had no symptoms, while the participants taking nortriptyline had 69 percent respond and 48 percent remit. Of the 29 participants who remained in the study until 20-24 weeks, 93 percent taking sertraline responded and 73 percent remitted, while 100 percent taking nortriptyline responded and 79 percent remitted. None of these differences were significant by statistical analyses.
Additionally, researchers found that psychosocial functioning improved similarly with use of both drugs. Neither drug proved to be superior to the other in treating aggressive obsessional thoughts. Side-effect burdens were the same, although side effects differed between the drugs. Overall, the majority of women responded to both of the drugs within two to four weeks.
"Conventional wisdom says that it can take six to eight weeks for a person to respond to an antidepressant. Several weeks is simply too long to wait for a response in postpartum depression," said Dr. Wisner. "It's encouraging to see that these women responded quickly and well to the study medications and that now we have
Contact: Jocelyn Uhl Duffy
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center