Background: Inadequate response to antidepressant monotherapy in women with major depressive disorder is common. Testosterone administration has been shown to be an effective augmentation therapy in depressed hypogonadal men with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-resistant depression. However, the effects of low-dose testosterone as augmentation therapy in women with treatment-resistant depression have not been studied.
Methods: Low-dose transdermal testosterone (300 mcg/day, Intrinsa, Procter and Gamble Pharmaceuticals) was administered to nine women with treatment-resistant depression in an 8 week open-label pilot protocol.
Results: There was a statistically significant improvement in mean Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) scores at 2 weeks, sustained through the 8 week period. Two-thirds of subjects achieved a response to the treatment (decrease in MADRS score of ≥50%) and 33% achieved remission (final MADRS score <10) after 8 weeks of therapy. Mean levels of fatigue, as measured by the MADRS lassitude item, significantly decreased at all time points with a mean 38% decrease from baseline to 8 weeks.
Conclusion: These preliminary pilot data suggest that low-dose transdermal testosterone may be an effective augmentation therapy in women with treatment-resistant depression. Further studies are warranted.