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This study aimed to examine the efficacy of combining paroxetine and mirtazapine v. switching to mirtazapine, for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who have had an insufficient response to SSRI monotherapy (paroxetine) after the first 2 weeks of treatment.
This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, three-arm study recruited participants from five hospitals in China. Eligible participants were aged 18–60 years with MDD of at least moderate severity. Participants received paroxetine during a 2-week open-label phase and patients who had not achieved early improvement were randomized to paroxetine, mirtazapine or paroxetine combined with mirtazapine for 6 weeks. The primary outcome was improvement on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression 17-item (HAMD-17) scores 6 weeks after randomization.
A total of 204 patients who showed early non-response to paroxetine monotherapy were randomly assigned to receive either mirtazapine and placebo (n = 68), paroxetine and placebo (n = 68) or mirtazapine and paroxetine (n = 68), with 164 patients completing the outcome assessment. At week 8, the least squares (LS) mean change of HAMD-17 scores did not significantly differ among the three groups, (12.98 points) in the mirtazapine group, (12.50 points) in the paroxetine group and (13.27 points) in the mirtazapine plus paroxetine combination group. Participants in the paroxetine monotherapy group were least likely to experience adverse effects.
After 8 weeks follow-up, paroxetine monotherapy, mirtazapine monotherapy and paroxetine/mirtazapine combination therapy were equally effective in non-improvers at 2 weeks. The results of this trial do not support a recommendation to routinely offer additional treatment or a switch in treatment strategies for MDD patients who do not show early improvement after 2 weeks of antidepressant treatment.
Studies conducted in Europe and the USA have shown that co-morbidity between major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety disorders is associated with various MDD-related features, including clinical symptoms, degree of familial aggregation and socio-economic status. However, few studies have investigated whether these patterns of association vary across different co-morbid anxiety disorders. Here, using a large cohort of Chinese women with recurrent MDD, we examine the prevalence and associated clinical features of co-morbid anxiety disorders.
A total of 1970 female Chinese MDD patients with or without seven co-morbid anxiety disorders [including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and five phobia subtypes] were ascertained in the CONVERGE study. Generalized linear models were used to model association between co-morbid anxiety disorders and various MDD features.
The lifetime prevalence rate for any type of co-morbid anxiety disorder is 60.2%. Panic and social phobia significantly predict an increased family history of MDD. GAD and animal phobia predict an earlier onset of MDD and a higher number of MDD episodes, respectively. Panic and GAD predict a higher number of DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. GAD and blood-injury phobia are both significantly associated with suicidal attempt with opposite effects. All seven co-morbid anxiety disorders predict higher neuroticism.
Patterns of co-morbidity between MDD and anxiety are consistent with findings from the US and European studies; the seven co-morbid anxiety disorders are heterogeneous when tested for association with various MDD features.
Our findings in the Helsinki Influenza Study and the Danish Forty Year Study lead us to
conclude that a 2nd-trimester maternal influenza infection may increase risk for adult
schizophrenia or adult major affective disorder. More recently we have also reported an increase
of unipolar depression among offspring who were exposed prenatally to a severe earthquake (7.8
on the Richter scale) in Tangshan, China. Among the earthquake-exposed males (but not the
females), we observed a significantly greater depression response for those individuals exposed
during the 2nd trimester of gestation. These findings suggest that maternal influenza infection
and severe maternal stress may operate (in different ways) as teratogens, disrupting the
development of the fetal brain and increasing risk for developing schizophrenia or depression in
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