Background: The rationale for treating patients with psychotic major depression (PMD) with glucocorticosteroid receptor (GR) antagonists is explained.
Methods: Thirty patients with PMD, with Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD-21) scores of 18 or greater, were assigned in an open label trial to receive 50 mg, 600 mg, or 1200 mg of mifepristone for 7 days.
Results: All the subjects completed the protocol; there were no dropouts. Side effects were mild and sporadic. Of 19 subjects in the combined 600- and 1200-mg group, 13 had a 30% or greater decline in their Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) scores, compared with 4 of 11 in the 50-mg group. In the 600- and 1200-mg group, 12 of 19 subjects showed a 50% decline in the BPRS positive symptom subscale, a more sensitive index for the symptoms seen in PMD, compared with 3 of 11 in the 50-mg group; 8 of 19 subjects in the 600- and 1200-mg group had a 50% decline in the HAMD-21, compared with 2 of 11 in the 50-mg group.
Conclusions: These results suggest that short term use of GR antagonists may be effective in the treatment of psychotic major depression and that further blinded studies are warranted.