Efficacy and tolerability of venlafaxine in geriatric outpatients with major depression: a double-blind, randomised 6-month comparative trial with citalopram

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2004 Dec;19(12):1123-30. doi: 10.1002/gps.1190.


Background: The objectives of the study were to compare efficacy and tolerability of venlafaxine ER 75-150 mg/day with that of citalopram 10-20 mg/day in elderly patients with major depression according to DSM-IV criteria.

Methods: A randomised, double-blind, parallel group 6-month study. Efficacy was assessed by MADRS, CGI Global Improvement, CGI Severity of Illness and GDS-20 scores and safety by physical examinations, vital signs, adverse events and UKU side effect rating. Plasma levels of venlafaxine, its major metabolite O-desmethylvenlafaxine and citalopram were followed.

Results: One hundred and fifty-one male and female patients (64-89 years) were enrolled and 118 patients completed the study. Comparable improvements in MADRS, CGI Severity of Illness, CGI Global Improvement and GDS-20 were observed during venlafaxine and citalopram treatment. The MADRS remission rate was 19% for venlafaxine and 23% for citalopram. Side effects were common during both treatments but differed in tremor being more common during citalopram and nausea/vomiting during venlafaxine treatment. There were no clinically significant changes in blood pressure or body weight.

Conclusion: The observed benefits of venlafaxine treatment in elderly patients with major depression were similar to those observed in younger adults as were reported adverse events and side effects. Treatment with venlafaxine ER was well tolerated and induced beneficial effects of similar magnitude as those of citalopram.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / blood
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / blood
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / therapeutic use
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Citalopram / adverse effects
  • Citalopram / blood
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclohexanols / adverse effects
  • Cyclohexanols / blood
  • Cyclohexanols / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Desvenlafaxine Succinate
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Citalopram
  • Venlafaxine Hydrochloride
  • Desvenlafaxine Succinate