A double-blind, placebo-controlled assessment of nortriptyline's side-effects during 3-year maintenance treatment in elderly patients with recurrent major depression

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 1999 Dec;14(12):1014-8.


The authors assessed the severity of nortriptyline's side-effects in older patients with recurrent major depression during placebo-controlled, double-blind maintenance therapy. Data were from 37 patients completing 2-3 years of maintenance therapy; 29 were on nortriptyline and eight were on placebo. The authors detected a time-by-treatment interaction for dry mouth (greater in nortriptyline-treated patients), but no increased association of nortriptyline with constipation, weight change or orthostatic symptoms. Heart rate was consistently higher in nortriptyline-maintained patients as compared with placebo. The total 'side-effect' score on the Asberg Rating Scale, as well as complaints of physical tiredness, daytime sleepiness and nocturnal sleep disturbance, were related primarily to residual depression rather than treatment with nortriptyline.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / therapeutic use
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Constipation / chemically induced
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Dizziness / chemically induced
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nortriptyline / adverse effects*
  • Nortriptyline / therapeutic use
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / chemically induced
  • Xerostomia / chemically induced


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Nortriptyline