Treatment of major depression with venlafaxine

The aim of the current study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of venlafaxine in the treatment of major depression.
The sample we studied consisted of 50 patients (60% F) who were diagnosed as suffering from major depression according to DSM IV criteria, 30% of patients were >65 years old. For 40% of all patients it was the first depressive episode. For the patients >65 y.o. venlafaxine dosage was adjusted to 75-100 mg while for the majority of young patients the dosage was 100-150 mg daily for a period of 8 weeks. Patients were assessed weekly according to the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM - D17), the Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAMA) and the Mini Mental State Examination in order to evaluate the efficacy of the therapy and to reveal possible adverse events.
The patients were also given instructions for behavior - cognitive techniques such as activity programming and satisfaction techniques. 10% of patients discontinued their treatment due to adverse events (nausea, headache, somnolence, dizziness, insomnia, dry mouth, malaise) and 4% stopped taking venlafaxine as they had no improvement at all.
79% of those who completed their treatment showed improvement at the end of the 8th week. 65% were clinically improved at the end of the 4th week and 75% at the end of the 6th week of treatment.
The higher rates of clinical improvement seen in our study were attributed to the use of behavior-cognitive techniques which were not applied in other studies. These results support the efficacy and safety of venlafaxine.

Key Words: Venlafaxine, Mazor depression, Antidepressant, Safety.

Dept of Psychiatry, Red Cross Hospital of Athens.