Zoloft Helps Prevent Depression Relapse
May 27, 2004

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For people with major depressive disorder that tends to recur frequently, the antidepressant drug Zoloft taken prophylactically seems to be helpful, according to results of a new study.

As reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Jean-Pierre Lepine, from the Fernand Widal hospital in Paris, and colleagues studied 288 patients who had experienced a minimum of three episodes of major depression in the preceding four years.

The participants were randomly assigned to receive daily prophylactic therapy with Zoloft (known technically as sertraline) or an inactive placebo for 18 months. To be sure that just the preventative effects of sertraline were being assessed, only patients who had not recently used sertraline were included in the study.

Of the 288 patients who began the study, 123 dropped out, including 65 for recurrences of depression, the investigators report.

Sertraline therapy significantly decreased the risk of recurrence, the investigators report. The recurrence rate seen with sertraline was 16.8 percent, almost half of the rate seen with placebo, at 33.3 percent.

Moreover, the length of time before a relapse occurred was significantly longer for sertraline-treated participants.

"The results of this study indicate that sertraline has significant efficacy for the prevention of depression recurrence among patients with a history of prior episodes," the authors state.

The study was funded by Pfizer, Inc., which markets Zoloft.

SOURCE: American Journal of Psychiatry, May 2004.