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David Brent, M.D.

UPMC Researchers To Study Adolescents With Treatment-Resistant Depression

PITTSBURGH, January 31, 2001 — A nationwide research study led by the University of Pittsburgh and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will examine different methods of caring for adolescents with treatment-resistant depression. The research will be done at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic with the hope of learning which method works best.

Most teenagers with depression are successfully treated using a type of antidepressant medication called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Prozac for example, in combination with talk therapy. However, as with adults, these treatments work only 60 percent of the time for teens. In this situation, mental health professionals have the option of switching to another SSRI antidepressant medication, switching to another type of antidepressant medication different from SSRIs or choosing one of these options along with providing talk therapy. However, no research had been conducted to tell clinicians which option had the best chance of working.

“This research study will give us a better understanding of treatment-resistant depression and a better handle on the most effective ways to treat it,” said David Brent, M.D., professor of psychiatry and principal investigator. “By testing four commonly used treatment combinations, we hope to establish which is the best at making patients get well and stay well.”

The four treatments to be studied are:

  • Switch to an alternative SSRI antidepressant medication (those on Paxil switch to Prozac, for example)
  • Switch to a different type of antidepressant (those on Prozac switch to Effexor)
  • Switch to an alternative SSRI plus receive a type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Switch to a different type of antidepressant medication plus receive CBT

Volunteers who participate in this study will be randomly assigned to take one of three antidepressant medications, either alone or in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Participants also will be closely monitored for 24 weeks and receive follow-up psychiatric evaluations for one year. If at any time during the study there is little or no improvement or symptoms worsen, the participant may be withdrawn from the study and offered other treatment options.

Participants must be between the ages of 12 and 18, currently in treatment for depression, taking Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox or Celexa, and still experiencing depression. Volunteers will be compensated for their time and parking. Study medications, office visits, physical examinations, lab tests and evaluations will be provided at no cost.

Other sites across the United States include Brown University, Providence, R.I.; University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland, Ore.; and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles.

For more information, please call 1-866-666-2538. All calls are confidential.

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