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.