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First Drug Shown Effective For Treating Chronic Forms Of Major Depression

A dose of sertraline a day keeps the deepest depression away. A new study shows that the drug, prescribed under the brand name Zoloft, can safely stop depression from recurring even in the most chronic sufferers.

The findings are the first to suggest an effective drug treatment for patients with the severest and most disabling forms of chronic depression. For these individuals, the study reports that sertraline protects against recurrence and greatly extends remission time. The drug is currently not indicated for use in the treatment of chronic depression. Previous research has shown sertraline to be effective in preventing relapse in patients suffering non-chronic episodes of major depression.

About three percent of the population suffers from chronic forms of depression, marked by disabling psychological and social problems. These individuals are often misdiagnosed as having character or personality disorders. In the study, many patients had suffered chronic major depression - a severe form of at least two years duration - for more than 20 years. Other patients suffered double depression - an acute form of major depression - combined with dysthymia, a chronic, milder depression present for at least two years.

The 19-month study appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The research involved 161 patients treated at outpatient psychiatric clinics at 10 academic medical and two clinical research centers. Before entering the study, the patients had responded positively to sertraline in a 12-week trial and had continued to respond well in a four-month extended treatment. In the study, 77 patients maintained sertraline use for 76 more weeks, while 84 patients took a placebo daily.

A research team found that patients receiving sertraline we
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Contact: Scott Turner
Scott_Turner@Brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
18-Nov-1998


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