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The present randomized, double blind, parallel group, controlled, multi-centric trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of escitalopram in comparison with citalopram and sertraline in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Outpatients (N=214) with an ongoing/newly diagnosed ICD-10 major depressive episode and a Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) score of > 18 were randomly assigned to citalopram, 20–40 mg/day (74 patients), escitalopram, 10–20 mg/day (69 patients) and sertraline, 50-150 mg/day (71 patients), for a 4-week double-blind treatment period, with dosage adjustment (after 2 weeks of treatment) according to the response to treatment. Clinical response was evaluated by the 17 items HAM-D and the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scales, which were recorded at baseline and at weekly intervals. Tolerability was evaluated by observed/spontaneously reported adverse changes in laboratory parameters (baseline and after 4 weeks). Response rate was defined as a decrease in HAM-D score by 50% from baseline and remission rate was defined as a HAM-D score of < 8. Response rate at the end of two week were 58% for escitalopram (10mg/day), 49% for citalopram (20mg/day) and 52% for sertraline (50-100mg/day). Response rate at the end of four week were 90% for escitalopram (10-20mg/day), 86% for citalopram (20-40mg/day) and 97% for sertraline (100-150mg/day). The Remission rates at the end of four weeks were 74% for escitalopram, 65% for citalopram and 77% for sertraline. Adverse experiences were reported by 45% of patients in escitalopram group, 58% patients in citalopram and 56% patients in the sertraline group. Additionally, there were lesser dropouts and lesser requirement for dose escalation in escitalopram than in citalopram and sertraline group. In conclusion Escitalopram, the Senantiomer of the citalopram is a safe and effective antidepressant in the Indian population. It has potentially superior efficacy than citalopram and a comparable efficacy to sertraline with fewer side effects than both citalopram and sertraline.