Changes in prefrontal activity characterize clinical response in SSRI nonresponders: a pilot study

J Psychiatr Res. 2005 Sep;39(5):461-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2004.12.002.


Previous studies in unipolar depression have shown that early decreases in prefrontal values of the QEEG cordance measure identified responders to pharmacotherapy. These studies have all examined individuals who were drug-free prior to the first physiologic assessment, yet in the clinical management of treatment resistant depression (TRD), many patients undergo changes in treatment without a drug-free interval between treatments. Here, we investigated whether cordance decreases were associated with response in Stage I TRD subjects without wash-out between treatment trials. Awake EEGs were recorded from 12 adults with unipolar depression. Subjects were receiving naturalistic treatment, had failed SSRI monotherapy, and were starting a new treatment prescribed by their treating psychiatrists. EEG data were recorded before starting the new treatment and after approximately 1 week. Six of the 12 subjects responded to treatment after 8--10 weeks. Five of the six responders showed an early cordance decreases, compared with two of the six nonresponders (accurate characterization in 75% of the cases). Consistent with previous treatment trials, decreases in prefrontal cordance differentiated responders from nonresponders in this setting as well. These findings suggest that cordance biomarkers may be a useful tool in effectiveness trials that parallel clinical practices in SSRI nonresponders, and may not require a wash-out period between treatments.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Resistance
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors