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The highly recurrent nature of major depression in the young and the elderly warrants long-term antidepressant treatment.
To compare the prophylactic efficacy of citalopram and placebo in elderly patients; to evaluate long-term tolerability of citalopram.
Out-patients, ⩾65 years, with unipolar major depression (DSM – IV: 296.2 x or 296.3 x) and Montgomery – Åsberg Depression Rating Scale score ⩾22 were treated with citalopram 20–40 mg for 8 weeks. Responders continued on their final fixed dose of citalopram for 16 weeks before randomisation to double-blind treatment with citalopram or placebo for at least 48 weeks.
Nineteen of the 60 patients using citalopram v. 41 of the 61 patients using placebo had recurrence. Time to recurrence was significantly different between citalopram— and placebo-patients, in favour of citalopram (log-rank test, P < 0.0001). Long-term treatment was well tolerated.
Long-term treatment with citalopram is effective in preventing recurrence of depression in the elderly and is well tolerated.
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