Comparison of the effects of fluoxetine, imipramine and placebo on personality in atypical depression

J Affect Disord. 2002 Sep;71(1-3):113-20. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(01)00393-7.


Background: Atypical depression is associated with elevated rates of personality disorders. Studies have confirmed the efficacy of a several antidepressants in the treatment of atypical depression. Whether their pathological dimensions of personality diminish after benefitting from effective medication treatment is unclear.

Aims: To determine the extent that pathological dimensions of character improved among patients who benefitted from treatment.

Method: One-hundred and fifty-four outpatients with DSM-IV Major Depression who met Columbia criteria for atypical depression were randomized to receive fluoxetine, imipramine or placebo for a 10-week double-blind clinical trial. The Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) was administered at the initiation of treatment and 8 weeks later. Low scores on either of two Character dimensions (Self-Directiveness or Cooperativeness) indicate psychopathology.

Results: Responders had a substantial reduction in Harm Avoidance, but post-treatment scores remained significantly higher than the normal control group (NCG). Fluoxetine and Imipramine did not produce different changes on personality, except for Self-Transcendence.

Limitations: High proportion of missing data, inadequate sample size, post-hoc analysis.

Conclusions: Among responders, Self-Directiveness improved and normalized; Harm Avoidance also improved but did not normalize. These data suggests that effective treatments reduce some pathological personality traits as well as improving mood.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / pharmacology*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / pharmacology*
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Disorders / etiology*
  • Placebos
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Placebos
  • Fluoxetine