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The efficacy of antidepressant treatment is fair, but the efficacy is considerably lower in patients failing two or more trials underscoring the need for new treatment options. Our study evaluated the augmenting antidepressant effect of 8-weeks transcranial pulsed electromagnetic field (T-PEMF) therapy in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
A multicenter 8-week single-arm cohort study conducted by the Danish University Antidepressant Group.
In total, 58 participants (20 men and 38 women) with a moderate to severe depression as part of a depressive disorder according to ICD-10 who fulfilled criteria for treatment resistance were included, with 19 participants being nonresponders to electroconvulsive therapy during the current depressive episode. Fifty-two participants completed the study period. Scores on the Hamilton Depression Scale 17-items version (HAM-D17) decreased significantly from baseline (mean = 20.6, SD 4.0) to endpoint (mean = 12.6, SD 7.1; N = 58). At endpoint, utilizing a Last Observation Carried Forward analysis, 49 and 28% of those participants with, respectively, a nonchronic current episode (≤2 years; N = 33) and a chronic current episode (>2 years; N = 25) were responders, that is, achieved a reduction of 50% or more on the HAM-D17 scale. At endpoint, respectively, 30 and 16% obtained remission, defined as HAM-D17 ≤ 7. On the Hamilton Scale 6-item version (HAM-D6), respectively, 51 and 16% obtained remission, defined as HAM-D6 ≤ 4.
The findings indicate a potential beneficial role of T-PEMF therapy as an augmentation treatment to ongoing pharmacotherapy in treatment-resistant depression.
For patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) experiencing side-effects or non-response to their first antidepressant, little is known regarding the effect of switching between a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
To compare the switch between the TCA nortriptyline and the SSRI escitalopram.
Among 811 adults with MDD treated with nortriptyline or escitalopram for up to 12 weeks, 108 individuals switched from nortriptyline to escitalopram or vice versa because of side-effects or non-response (trial registration: EudraCT No.2004-001723-38 (https://eudract.ema.europa.eu/) and ISRCTN No.03693000 (http://www.controlled-trials.com)). Patients were followed for up to 26 weeks after switching and response was measured with the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating scale (MADRS). We performed adjusted mixed-effects linear regression models with full information maximum likelihood estimation reporting β-coefficients with 95% CIs.
Switching antidepressants resulted in a significant decrease in MADRS scores. This was present for switchers from escitalopram to nortriptyline (n = 36, β = −0.38, 95% CI −0.51 to −0.25, P<0.001) and from nortriptyline to escitalopram (n = 72, β = −0.34, 95% CI −0.41 to −0.26, P<0.001). Both switching options resulted in significant improvement among individuals who switched because of non-response or side-effects. The results were supported by analyses on other rating scales and symptom dimensions.
These results suggest that switching from a TCA to an SSRI or vice versa after non-response or side-effects to the first antidepressant may be a viable approach to achieve response among patients with MDD.
Declarations of interest
K.J.A. holds an Alberta Centennial Addiction and Mental Health Research Chair, funded by the Government of Alberta. K.J.A. has been a member of various advisory boards, received consultancy fees and honoraria, and has received research grants from various companies including Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals Research and Development and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Limited. D.S. has served on advisory boards for, and received unrestricted grants from, Lundbeck and AstraZeneca. A.F. and P.M. have received honoraria for participating in expert panels for Lundbeck and GlaxoSmithKline.
Bipolar disorder in pregnancy may be difficult to treat. The dilemma is whether the women should continue medication throughout pregnancy, and maybe accept a minor risk to harm their unborn child, or discontinue medication and increase the risk of recurrence, which can lead to maternal morbidity, thereby endangering themselves and their foetus.
Design and methods
In September 2016, three electronic search databases; PubMed, Scopus and PsycInfo, were used searching for clinical trials concerning this question. Eight clinical trials concerning risk of recurrence after discontinuation of medication in pregnancy were included.
There is no consensus concerning the risk of discontinuation of medication during pregnancy among bipolar women. The evidence from the trials included underscore that there seem to be a group of pregnant women who are stable despite they are not receiving mood stabilisers during pregnancy. Besides, there is a group of more severe and more unstable bipolar disorders that seem to benefit of a more close monitoring, support and prophylactic medication during pregnancy and postpartum period to prevent recurrence.
For the more stable bipolar women we recommend a well planned and more slowly discontinuation of medication before pregnancy. For the unplanned pregnancies it is important to consider the possibility of a more slowly discontinuation. For the more severe conditions of bipolar disorder, it is important to secure a close monitoring of medication. As the risk of postpartum relapse is high, medication may be started soon after delivery.
Depression may be difficult to treat and with comorbid diabetes mellitus (DM) it is an even bigger challenge. This article aims to evaluate antidepressants most suitable for patients with depression and comorbid DM.
Design and methods
Initially we searched for randomised, controlled double-blind trials of treatment with antidepressants in depressed with DM but there were only a few studies and many of them were small trials. Thus, we decided to include studies that were not only randomised-controlled trials. In total, we ended up with 18 articles for our purposes.
The combination of depression and DM may be harmful as depression has a strong impact on psychosocial and medical outcomes in patients with DM. Almost all of the trials in this review showed a reduction in depressive symptoms after treatment with an antidepressant in the acute as well as during maintenance phase. It showed that depression improvement had a favourable effect on glycaemic control that was weight independent. Some studies included only subjects with minor depression or with suboptimal-controlled diabetes making it difficult to show an effect.
From these data, we will recommend choosing an selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) if possible to treat a depression among patients with diabetes. If treatment with a tricyclic antidepressant is needed, closer glycaemic monitoring is recommended. Bear in mind that there is a possible risk of hypoglycemia when using SSRIs. Agomelatine and bupropion have shown promising results, but need to be investigated in more trials.
We have made a 2-year follow-up study to evaluate the effect of repeated transcranial pulsating electromagnetic fields (T-PEMF) augmentation in patients who had achieved remission but later on relapsed, as well as to identify factors contributing to treatment-resistant depression in patients who did not respond to T-PEMF.
Using the Longitudinal Expert Assessment of All Data approach the patients were classified in four groups: A: patients who achieved remission; B: patients with doubtful effect; C: patients with no effect; and D: patients who were hard-to-assess.
In group A, comprising 27 patients, 13 had relapsed; they obtained a clear remission after a repeated course of T-PEMF augmentation. In group D, comprising 16 patients, we identified misdiagnostic factors both concerning the event of remission after the previous T-PEMF augmentation and concerning the aetiology (psychosocial stressors and co-morbid conditions). Compared with the other groups, the group D patients had a smaller number of previous episodes (p=0.09) and a longer duration of the current episode (p=0.01).
T-PEMF has an effect among patients who relapsed after remission with the first series of T-PEMF. Treatment-resistant depression is a condition that has a high degree of multivariate problems. Misuse of alcohol or drugs, severe somatic disorders and other psychosocial problems may need other kinds of treatment before T-PEMF augmentation.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictive validity of the apathy subsyndrome in patients with therapy-resistant depression in the dose–remission study with transcranial pulsating electromagnetic fields (T-PEMF).
The apathy subsyndrome consists of the symptoms of fatigue, concentration and memory problems, lack of interests, difficulties in making decisions, and sleep problems. We evaluated 65 patients with therapy-resistant depression. In total, 34 of these patients received placebo T-PEMF in the afternoon and active T-PEMF in the morning, that is, one daily dose. The remaining 31 patients received active T-PEMF twice daily. Duration of treatment was 8 weeks in both groups. The Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D17) and the Bech-Rafaelsen Melancholia Scale (MES) were used to measure remission. We also focused on the Diagnostic Apathia Scale, which is based on a mixture of items from the MINI and the HAM-D17/MES.
In patients without apathy, the remission rate after T-PEMF was 83.9% versus 58.8% in patients with apathy (p≤0.05). In patients without apathy receiving one active dose daily 94.4% remitted versus 50% for patients with apathy (p≤0.05). In patients without apathy who received two active doses 69.9% remitted versus 66.7% for patients with apathy (p≤0.05).
Taking the baseline diagnosis of the apathy syndrome into consideration, we found that in patients without apathy one daily dose of T-PEMF is sufficient, but in patients with apathy two daily doses are necessary. Including the apathy syndrome as predictor in future studies would seem to be clinically relevant.
To evaluate to what extent a twice daily dose of Transcranial Pulsating ElectroMagnetic Fields (T-PEMF) was superior to once daily in patients with treatment-resistant depression as to obtaining symptom remission after 8 weeks of augmentation therapy.
A self-treatment set-up of the T-PEMF device was used allowing self-administration by patients in own homes. All patients were treated for 30 min per T-PEMF session. The antidepressant medication the patients were receiving at baseline remained unchanged during the trial. The patients were randomised to either one T-PEMF dose (active dose in the morning and sham in the afternoon) or two T-PEMF doses (active dose both morning and afternoon) in a double-blind procedure. A score of 7 or less on the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D17) was the criterion of remission.
In total 34 patients received active T-PEMF once a day and 31 patients twice daily. After 5 weeks of therapy remission was obtained in 26.5% and 32.3% on one dose and two doses of T-PEMF, respectively. After 8 weeks the rate of remission was 73.5% and 67.7%, respectively. The side effects as measured by the Udvalget for Kliniske Undersøgelser scale showed a better toleration of the antidepresssive medication in both treatment groups, which was reflected by the WHO-5 well-being scale with increased scores in both groups of patients.
The high remission rate obtained by the T-PEMF augmentation was not a dose effect (one versus two daily T-PEMF sessions) but was explained by the extension of the treatment period from 5 to 8 weeks.
Adverse drug reactions are important determinants of non-adherence to
antidepressant treatment but their assessment is complicated by overlap
with depressive symptoms and lack of reliable self-report measures.
To evaluate a simple self-report measure and describe adverse reactions
to antidepressants in a large sample.
The newly developed self-report Antidepressant Side-Effect Checklist and
the psychiatrist-rated UKU Side Effect Rating Scale were repeatedly
administered to 811 adult participants with depression in a
part-randomised multicentre open-label study comparing escitalopram and
There was good agreement between self-report and psychiatrists' ratings.
Most complaints listed as adverse reactions in people with depression
were more common when they were medication-free rather than during their
treatment with antidepressants. Dry mouth (74%), constipation (33%) and
weight gain (15%) were associated with nortriptyline treatment. Diarrhoea
(9%), insomnia (36%) and yawning (16%) were more common during treatment
with escitalopram. Problems with urination and drowsiness predicted
discontinuation of nortriptyline. Diarrhoea and decreased appetite
predicted discontinuation of escitalopram.
Adverse reactions to antidepressants can be reliably assessed by
self-report. Attention to specific adverse reactions may improve
adherence to antidepressant treatment.
There have been conflicting reports on whether the length polymorphism in
the promoter of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) moderates the
antidepressant effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
(SSRIs). We hypothesised that the pharmacogenetic effect of 5-HTTLPR is
modulated by gender, age and other variants in the serotonin transporter
To test the hypothesis that the 5-HTTLPR differently influences response
to escitalopram (an SSRI) compared with nortriptyline (a noradrenaline
The 5-HTTLPR and 13 additional markers across the serotonin transporter
gene were genotyped in 795 adults with moderate-to-severe depression
treated with escitalopram or nortriptyline in the Genome Based
Therapeutic Drugs for Depression (GENDEP) project.
The 5-HTTLPR moderated the response to escitalopram, with long-allele
carriers improving more than short-allele homozygotes. A significant
three-way interaction between 5-HTTLPR, drug and gender indicated that
the effect was concentrated in males treated with escitalopram. The
single-nucleotide polymorphism rs2020933 also influenced outcome.
The effect of 5-HTTLPR on antidepressant response is SSRI specific
conditional on gender and modulated by another polymorphism at the 5' end
of the serotonin transporter gene.
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