Background: This systematic review evaluated all published double-blind, randomized controlled antidepressant trials (RCTs) of acute phase treatment of older depressed patients.
Methods: Meta-analyses were conducted in 51 double-blind RCTs of antidepressants in older patients. The results were also compared with 29 double- blind RCTs that did not produce extractable data to enter the meta-analysis.
Results: All classes of antidepressant (TCA's, SSRIs and other antidepressants) were more effective than placebo in achieving response. In achieving remission however, only pooling all 3 classes of antidepressants together showed a statistically significant difference from placebo. No differences were found in remission or response rates between classes of antidepressants. TCAs were also equally effective compared with SSRIs in achieving response in more severely depressed patients. The numbers needed to treat (NNT) were 14.4 (95% CI 8.3-50) for one additional remission to antidepressants compared with placebo and 6.7 (95% CI 4.8-10) for response. The results of the double- blind RCTs that did not produce extractable data to enter the meta-analysis were in concordance with the RCTs that were included in the meta-analysis.
Limitations: Only 4 RCTs were found that have not been published. Few studies have focused on severely depressed older people.
Conclusions: Antidepressant treatment in older depressed patients is efficacious. We could not demonstrate differences in effectiveness between different classes of antidepressants; this was also the case in more severely depressed patients. (c) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.