A new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that a combination therapy of the antidepressant Serzone and psychotherapy designed specifically for chronic depression provides the best treatment for patients with chronic forms of major depression.
For the 681 patients in the study, this two-fisted approach produced an 85-percent response rate, the highest such rate for a three-month period for any reported study of depression.
"This is the first time that combination therapy has proven to be so much more effective than either medication or psychotherapy alone," said lead investigator Martin B. Keller, M.D. "For some of the study's patients, who underwent the combination therapy, it was the first time in more than 20 years that they could sustain pleasure and function fully at work and with families and friends."
The study is the largest ever undertaken of medication alone, psychotherapy alone and an aggregate of the two, to treat chronic forms of major depression. The psychotherapy was designed specifically to treat chronic types of depression. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., makers of Serzone, funded the research.
An estimated 14 million Americans suffer from chronic forms of depression, marked by severely disabling psychological and social problems. Annually, more than 46 million Americans, ages 15-54, suffer from depressive episodes. Depression costs the US economy an estimated $53 billion each year.
The study took place at a dozen outpatient psychiatric clinics and academic medical centers
nationwide. Patients had been depressed continuously for at least two years. On average, their
condition was chronic for nearly 20 years. Patients were randomized to receive eit
Contact: Scott Turner