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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-22

Comparison of efficacy and tolerability of escitalopram and venlafaxine in treatment-naïve patients with unipolar nonpsychotic depression: Is there a need to revisit the prescription patterns?

1 Department of Psychiatry, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, India
3 Department of Psychology, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Harneet Kaur
Department of Psychiatry, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmhhb.jmhhb_21_19

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Background: Depression is a common mental illness for which guidelines recommend selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors as the first-line treatment. As per the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression trial, the first antidepressant needs to be chosen carefully so that the number of treatment changes and therefore treatment resistance can be reduced. This study compared the efficacy and tolerability of escitalopram and venlafaxine, in treatment-naïve patients with first-episode, nonpsychotic unipolar depression. Methodology: In this prospective, randomized, open-label study, 77 patients with the International Classification of Disease-10 Diagnostic Criteria for Research diagnosis of depression were inducted and randomly assigned using a computer-generated random table to receive either escitalopram (10–20 mg/day) or venlafaxine (75–225 mg/day) in therapeutic range for a period of 12 weeks. The assessments included the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and physical investigations at baseline and weeks 2, 6, and 12. A total of 60 patients completed the study and were included in the final analysis. Results: Thirty patients in each group (n = 60) enrolled with comparable baseline assessment except significantly higher HDRS in the venlafaxine group (29.87 ± 10.58) compared to escitalopram group (21.80 ± 4.41). At 12 weeks, the reduction in HDRS was significantly early and higher in the venlafaxine group (26.3 ± 9.7) than the escitalopram group (21.3 ± 4.2). Common adverse effects in the venlafaxine group included Gastrointestinal (GI) activation and vivid dreams which were seen till 2 weeks; the escitalopram group included sexual dysfunction which lasted till the end of the study. Conclusions: Both the molecules lead to significant reduction in HDRS scores across assessment. However, venlafaxine demonstrated superior efficacy and transient adverse effects compared to escitalopram, despite having higher HDRS scores at baseline. The results of the current study indicate that serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors such as venlafaxine should be prescribed more often in routine clinical practice.

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