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.