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1.  Preliminary randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of tryptophan combined with fluoxetine to treat major depressive disorder: antidepressant and hypnotic effects. 
OBJECTIVE: Because the initial phase of treatment of depression with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor is often complicated by a delayed onset of action of the antidepressant or severe insomnia or both, we investigated whether tryptophan, an amino acid with both antidepressant-augmenting and hypnotic effects, would benefit patients with depression at the beginning of treatment with fluoxetine. DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. PATIENTS: Thirty individuals with major depressive disorder. INTERVENTIONS: Treatment over 8 weeks with 20 mg of fluoxetine per day and either tryptophan (2 to 4 g per day) or placebo. OUTCOME MEASURES: Mood was assessed using the 29-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-29) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Laboratory sleep studies were done at baseline and after 4 and 8 weeks of treatment using standard procedures. RESULTS: During the first week of treatment, there was a significantly greater decrease in HDRS-29 depression scores, and a similar trend in BDI scores, in the tryptophan/fluoxetine group than in the placebo/fluoxetine group. No significant differences were noted at later time points. With respect to sleep measures, there was a significant group-by-time interaction for slow-wave sleep at week 4. Further analysis revealed a significant decrease in slow-wave sleep after 4 weeks of treatment in the placebo/fluoxetine group, but not in the tryptophan/fluoxetine group. No cases of serotonin syndrome occurred, and the combination was well tolerated, although the 4 g per day dosage of tryptophan produced daytime drowsiness. CONCLUSIONS: Combining 20 mg of fluoxetine with 2 g of tryptophan daily at the outset of treatment for major depressive disorder appears to be a safe protocol that may have both a rapid antidepressant effect and a protective effect on slow-wave sleep. Further large-scale studies are needed to confirm these initial findings.
PMCID: PMC1407729  PMID: 11022398
2.  Use of slow-release melatonin in treatment-resistant depression. 
OBJECTIVE: To examine antidepressant augmentation with and hypnotic effects of slow-release melatonin (SR-melatonin) in patients with treatment-resistant depression. DESIGN: Open-label trial. SETTING: Tertiary care outpatient depression clinic. PATIENTS: Nine outpatients who had failed to respond to 2 or more 8-week trials of antidepressant medication. INTERVENTIONS: Patients received SR-melatonin 5 mg per day for the first 2 weeks and 10 mg per day for the final 2 weeks, in addition to their antidepressant medication. OUTCOME MEASURES: Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, Axis 1 Disorders, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), Beck Depression Inventory, Response Style Questionnaire, sleep and fatigue measures. RESULTS: One patient was excluded after 1 week because of the development of a mixed affective state. In the remaining 8 patients there was a 20% mean decrease in HRSD scores after 4 weeks of treatment, with no individual achieving an improvement of 50% or more. There was a 36% decrease on the 3-item HRSD related to insomnia, with 4 of 8 patients showing at least a 50% improvement on this measure. The greatest decrease in insomnia occurred during the last 2 weeks of the study, following the increase in dosage to 10 mg per day of SR-melatonin. Patients also reported significantly lower levels of fatigue post-treatment. CONCLUSIONS: SR-melatonin may be a useful adjunct for sleep, but does not substantially augment existing antidepressant therapies in some patients with treatment-resistant depression.
PMCID: PMC1407707  PMID: 10721684

Results 1-2 (2)