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Alprazolam vs Amitriptyline in Depressions With Reduced REM Latencies

A. John Rush, MD; Milton K. Erman, MD; Michael A. Schlesser, MD; Howard P. Roffwarg, MD; Nishendu Vasavada, MD; Manoochehr Khatami, MD; Carol Fairchild, MSN; Donna E. Giles, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1985;42(12):1154-1159. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1985.01790350028006.
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• This study was designed to compare the antidepressant effects of alprazolam, a triazolobenzodiazepine, with amitriptyline hydrochloride in a group of patients with nonpsychotic, major depressions diagnosed by Research Diagnostic Criteria. A mean rapid eye movement latency of less than 65 minutes was required to enter this study. Dexamethasone suppression tests were conducted before treatment. By strictly applied Research Diagnostic Criteria, 83.6% of the subjects were endogenous, and 34.7% were inpatients. A significantly greater percentage of alprazolam-treated patients responded within the first seven days of treatment. By the end of this sixweek trial, alprazolam was associated with significant reductions in Hamilton, Beck, Covi, Raskin, and Carroll Rating scores (pretreatment to posttreatment). However, by the end of treatment the effects of amitriptyline exceeded those of alprazolam on both the Hamilton and Beck scales. These data indicate that alprazolam is not as effective as amitriptyline in major depressions with a shortened rapid eye movement latency.

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