Journal of psychiatric research

Outcome in delusional depression comparing trimipramine monotherapy with a combination of amitriptyline and haloperidol--a double-blind multicenter trial.

PMID 19038406


Patients with delusional depression are difficult to treat. The atypical antidepressant trimipramine was effective in a previous 4-week open label pilot study in patients with this disorder. The major neurobiological effect of trimipramine is the inhibition of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) system. In delusional depression HPA overactivity is more distinct than in other subtypes of depression. HPA suppression is thought to contribute to the action of trimipramine. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled multicenter trial we compared the effects of trimipramine monotherapy versus a combination of amitriptyline and haloperidol. Dosage was increased stepwise from 100mg up to 400mg trimipramine and from 100mg up to 200mg amitriptyline combined with 2mg up to 7.5mg haloperidol. The average dose of trimipramine was higher than that of amitriptyline throughout the trial. During sixth week mean dosage (+/-standard deviation) were 356.1+/-61.2mg trimipramine, 184.0+/-23.6 mg amitriptyline and 6.3+/-1.8 mg haloperidol. During six weeks psychometric assessments were performed weekly. For HPA monitoring a dexamethasone/corticotropin-releasing hormone (Dex/CRH) test was performed before active medication and at the end of treatment. Additionally tolerability was monitored by ECG, EEG assessment of extrapyramidal symptoms and akathisia, clinical laboratory routine and recording of blood pressure and heart rate. Adverse events were documented. 94 patients were enclosed into the study. The per protocol sample consisted of 33 patients of the trimipramine group and of 24 patients of the amitriptyline/haloperidol group. The decrease of the Hamilton depression (HAMD) score (24 items) showed non-inferiority of trimipramine compared to amitriptyline/haloperidol. Twenty-eight patients (84.84%) in the trimipramine arm and 17 patients (70.83%) in the amitriptyline/haloperidol arm were responders (HAMD