How common is resistance to treatment in recurrent, nonpsychotic geriatric depression?

John T. Little, Charles F. Reynolds, Mary Amanda Dew, Ellen Frank, Amy E. Begley, Mark D. Miller, Cleon Cornes, Sati Mazumdar, James M. Perel, David J. Kupfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objective: Effective treatments are available for major depressive disorder in later life. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the frequency of treatment resistance among the elderly. Method: Treatment resistance, defined as lack of recovery despite combined pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, was prospectively examined in 180 elderly patients in an episode of recurrent, nonpsychotic major depression who were referred to a university medical center for treatment. They received open acute and continuation treatment with nortriptyline and interpersonal psychotherapy. Results: Among the 159 patients who completed acute treatment, 19 (11.9%) did not experience a remission of depression. In addition, nine patients who had achieved remission relapsed during continuation therapy and did not recover despite vigorous treatment. Hence, excluding dropouts, 18.4% of the patients met the criteria for treatment resistance by their lack of response to acute treatment or by relapsing during continuation therapy and not recovering subsequently despite further vigorous treatment. Conclusions: The study suggests a relatively low rate of resistance to treatment among depressed geriatric patients referred to a university tertiary care setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1035-1038
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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