Postpartum depression recurrence versus discontinuation syndrome: Observations from a randomized controlled trial

Keerthy R. Sunder, Katherine L. Wisner, Barbara H. Hanusa, James M. Perel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To differentiate characteristics of a discontinuation syndrome from a recurrence of major depressive disorder in the context of a randomized trial. Method: We performed a randomized clinical trial to compare the efficacy of sertraline versus placebo for the prevention of recurrent postpartum DSM-IV major depressive disorder. Women whose depression did not recur in the initial 17-week active treatment trial were followed through the taper phase (weeks 18-20). At week 17, 3 women assigned to placebo and 8 assigned to sertraline remained in the trial. Nine symptoms that characterize discontinuation syndrome were extracted from the 25-item Asberg Rating Scale for Side Effects (ASE) and assessed weekly during the taper phase. The 21-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was used to evaluate depressive symptoms. Results: In the taper phase, there were no significant differences between the sertraline- and placebo-treated women on the sum of the ASE-derived symptoms. Both groups had low levels of symptoms on the ASE during the weeks of taper. None of the 3 women assigned to placebo and 2 of the 8 women assigned to sertraline suffered a depressive recurrence within 6 weeks of the end of the study. Conclusions: A gradual taper of sertraline (75 mg) over 3 weeks did not lead to discontinuation syndrome; however, the systematic dissection of symptoms resulted in our conclusion that the duration of preventive therapy should be extended to 26 weeks (about 6 months) in subsequent randomized trials, consistent with the treatment guidelines for a single episode of depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1266-1268
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Volume65
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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