To outline how the inclusion of pharmacogenetic data lends additional information in the overall decision making relative to drug therapy in the elderly patient.
The relationship between steady-state plasma concentration and clinical response was studied in 22 hospitalized unipolar depressed patients. In a double-blind format the patients were randomly assigned to receive amitriptyline or nortriptyline. Dosage was adjusted based on plasma level with the aim of achieving a concentration of 60-180 ng/ml. By week 4 of treatment, 83% of amitriptyline patients and all nortriptyline patients were within the targeted plasma range. Based on final ratings of clinical state, the drug level adjustment improved the outcome for nortriptyline-treated patients, but not amitriptyline-treated patients. Nortriptyline patients with plasma levels of 60-230 ng/ml had lower Hamilton Rating Scale depression scores than patients outside that range. By contrast, amitriptyline plasma levels were not associated with depression ratings. After 1 week, patients treated with nortriptyline had a significantly greater mean reduction in Hamilton depression score, i.e., 55% compared to 25% for amitriptyline patients.
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Overall, nonresponse occurred in 34% of the patients. In pharmacotherapy this was 46%, in psychotherapy 39% and in combined therapy 28%. The severity of somatic symptoms was associated with nonresponse in both combined therapy and psychotherapy. No predictive factors were found in the case of pharmacotherapy. In psychotherapy, nonresponse was related to age above 40 years, chronic depression and nonadherence by the patient. In the case of combined therapy, younger age, previous use of an antidepressant and having a previous depressive episode were associated with nonresponse.
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The identification of effective continuation and maintenance strategies for elderly patients with psychotic depression is a critical issue that has not been fully explored. The aim of this study was to assess the tolerability and efficacy of continuation/maintenance electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in elderly patients with psychotic depression after acute ECT remission.
Response to nortriptyline was affected by red cell folate status. It may, therefore, be beneficial to consider folate augmentation in patients with major depression, particularly if treated with nortriptyline.
Major depressive disorder occurs in approximately 2% of prepubertal children and 5% of adolescents. Studies investigating the pharmacotherapy of early-onset major depressive disorder in these young patients have been inconclusive. Early open trials and anecdotal experience suggested a beneficial role for antidepressant therapy. Double-blind placebo-controlled trials have failed to demonstrate the robust response seen in adults, but the studies have been small and concerns have been raised regarding methodology. Nevertheless, the significant morbidity associated with depressive disorders and the positive open trial experiences with antidepressants have led to the recommendation that antidepressants be used early in life when a patient presents with symptoms of a depressive disorder and has significant functional incapacity because of these symptoms. This article will review the studies of antidepressant efficacy in juvenile-onset major depressive disorder and then propose a pharmacotherapy model.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the patients with acute amitriptyline poisoning and investigate predictive factors for the development of life-threatening complications.
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Depressive disorders have been identified as independent risk factors for coronary heart disease. The present study (i) compared platelet function of depressed patients with that of healthy controls, (ii) analysed possible aggregability changes during 3 months of treatment with antidepressants, and (iii) sought to assess different effects of escitalopram and nortriptyline on platelet aggregation.
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Awareness of Quitline, nicotine gum, and nicotine patch was higher among smokers (94%, 91%, 90%) than non-smokers (87%, 73%, 64%). Low percentages of smokers reported cessation interventions as effective (only 41% for Quitline--the intervention perceived effective by most). Awareness of varenicline, bupropion and nortriptyline was the lowest among both smokers and non-smokers (<31%).
The prevalence of pain increases with each decade of life. Pain in the elderly is distinctly different from pain experienced by younger individuals. Cancer is a leading cause of pain; however, other conditions that cause pain such as facet joint arthritis (causing low back pain), polymyalgia rheumatica, Paget's disease, neuropathies, peripheral vascular disease and coronary disease most commonly occur in patients over the age of 50 years. Poorly controlled pain in the elderly leads to cognitive failure, depression and mood disturbance and reduces activities of daily living. Barriers to pain management include a sense of fatalism, denial, the desire to be 'the good patient', geographical barriers and financial limitations. Aging causes physiological changes that alter the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of analgesics, narrowing their therapeutic index and increasing the risk of toxicity and drug-drug interactions. CNS changes lead to an increased risk of delirium. Assessment among the verbal but cognitively impaired elderly is satisfactorily accomplished with the help of unidimensional and multidimensional pain scales. A comprehensive physical examination and pain history is essential, as well as a review of cognitive function and activities of daily living. The goal of pain management among the elderly is improvement in pain and optimisation of activities of daily living, not complete eradication of pain nor the lowest possible drug dosages. Most successful management strategies combine pharmacological and nonpharmacological (home remedies, massage, topical agents, heat and cold packs and informal cognitive strategies) therapies. A basic principle of the pharmacological approach in the elderly is to start analgesics at low dosages and titrate slowly. The WHO's three-step guideline to pain management should guide prescribing. Opioid choices necessitate an understanding of pharmacology to ensure safe administration in end-organ failure and avoidance of drug interactions. Adjuvant analgesics are used to reduce opioid adverse effects or improve poorly controlled pain. Adjuvant analgesics (NSAIDs, tricyclic antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs) are initiated prior to opioids for nociceptive and neuropathic pain. Preferred adjuvants for nociceptive pain are short-acting paracetamol (acetaminophen), NSAIDs, cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitors and corticosteroids (short-term). Preferred drugs for neuropathic pain include desipramine, nortriptyline, gabapentin and valproic acid. Drugs to avoid are pentazocine, pethidine (meperidine), dextropropoxyphene and opioids that are both an agonist and antagonist, ketorolac, indomethacin, piroxicam, mefenamic acid, amitriptyline and doxepin. The type of pain, and renal and hepatic function, alter the preferred adjuvant and opioid choices. Selection of the appropriate analgesics is also influenced by versatility, polypharmacy, severity and type of pain, drug availability, associated symptoms and cost.
Symptoms resembling tricyclic side effects were assessed at baseline and at monthly intervals using the Somatic Symptoms Checklist. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and Diagnostic Interview Schedule were used to assess depressive severity and history of generalized anxiety or panic disorder, respectively. Symptoms resembling tricyclic side effects, including thirst (54%), palpitations (51%), and dry mouth (48%), were commonly experienced before commencing pharmacotherapy. Patients with severe depressive episodes and those with a history of an anxiety or panic disorder had significantly more physical symptoms than those with milder episodes of depression and were more likely to drop out of care (n = 25) before completing the acute phase of pharmacotherapy. Patients who completed the acute phase of pharmacotherapy and those who entered its continuation phase (n = 43) experienced significant reduction in many depressive and physical symptoms (p < .001).