Antidepressant Treats Menopause Depression

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 18 (UPI) — An antidepressant can alleviate symptoms of major depression in women in menopause or perimenopause, the years before menopause, U.S. researchers found.

The double-blind trial led by Dr. Susan G. Kornstein of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine compared the effectiveness and safety of the antidepressant desvenlafaxine, also known as Pristiq, to a placebo.

In earlier research, Kornstein has shown women may respond to antidepressants differently from men and may respond to medication differently at different ages.

Kornstein and colleagues say the study enrolled 387 women who were peri-or post-menopausal and were diagnosed with major depression at 37 outpatient sites nationwide. The women were randomly assigned to take either 100 mg or 200 mg daily of Pristiq or placebo for eight weeks.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found women who took Pristiq showed significant improvement — 58.6 percent for those taking Pristiq, compared to 38.2 percent for those on placebo — using the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and other psychological tests.

The medication was effective among the subgroups of perimenopausal women as well as those who were post-menopausal, Kornstein said.

At the time the study started, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not yet approved Pristiq, which patients now typically take in 50 mg daily doses to treat depression. Kornstein said she is recruiting patients for a new, similar study using the 50 mg daily dose.

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