SSRIs do not worsen Parkinson's disease: evidence from an open-label, prospective study

Clin Neuropharmacol. Jul-Aug 2001;24(4):221-7. doi: 10.1097/00002826-200107000-00005.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been reported to be useful in the treatment of depression in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). However, a few reports have suggested that SSRIs may worsen parkinsonian motor symptomatology and extrapyramidal side effects have been reported in depressed patients treated with SSRIs. So far, no prospective trial comparing the effects of different SSRIs in depressed patients with PD has been performed. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of four SSRIs (citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline) on motor performance and their efficacy on depression in a group of patients with PD. Sixty-two consecutive nondemented, nonfluctuating, depressed patients with PD were included in four treatment groups (15 patiens received citalopram, 16 fluoxetine, 16 fluvoxamine, and 15 sertraline). The evaluation of extrapyramidal and depressive symptomatology was performed with use of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), Beck Depression Inventory, and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale at baseline and after 1, 3, and 6 months. Fifty-two patients completed the study. UPDRS scores were not significantly modified by the add-on therapy with each of the SSRIs studied. A significant improvement in depressive symptoms from baseline to the end of the trial was obtained with all SSRIs (Beck and Hamilton scores improving; p < 0.05 according to an analysis of variance). Our findings suggest that SSRIs do not significantly worsen extrapyramidal symptomatology and may ameliorate depression in patients with PD.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Citalopram / pharmacology
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use
  • Fluvoxamine / pharmacology
  • Fluvoxamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy*
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / pharmacology
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Fluoxetine
  • Citalopram
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Sertraline