How long should the elderly take antidepressants? A double-blind placebo-controlled study of continuation/prophylaxis therapy with dothiepin. Old Age Depression Interest Group.


Of 219 elderly patients with a major depressive disorder (meeting RDC), 69 recovered sufficiently and consented to enter a two-year double-blind placebo-controlled trial of dothiepin. Survival analysis revealed that dothiepin reduced the relative risk of relapse by two and a half times. Past but not current serious physical illness was also associated with a favourable outcome, whereas a prolonged index depressive illness trebled the relative risk of relapse. In the light of previous research on prognosis it is suggested that elderly persons who recover from a major depressive illness should continue with antidepressant medication for at least two years, if not indefinitely.