Escitalopram versus sertraline in the treatment of major depressive disorder: a randomized clinical trial

Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Feb;23(2):245-50. doi: 10.1185/030079906X167273.


Objective: This trial was conducted to compare the efficacy and tolerability of a fixed dose of escitalopram 10 mg/day with sertraline optimally dosed within its recommended dose range (50-200 mg/day) for the treatment of major depressive disorder.

Methods: In this multicenter trial, depressed patients (DSM-IV defined; baseline Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale [MADRS] 22) aged 18-80 years were randomly assigned to 8 weeks of double-blind treatment with escitalopram (10 mg/day) or sertraline (50-200 mg/day) following a 1-week single-blind placebo lead-in period. There was no placebo comparison arm. Sertraline was initiated at 50 mg/day, and could be increased by 50 mg/day at weekly intervals based on clinical need and tolerability at the lower dose level. The blind was maintained with matching double-blind placebo capsules for the escitalopram group. Change from baseline to endpoint in MADRS total score (last observation carried forward) was the primary efficacy measure.

Results: A total of 212 patients received double-blind medication. At week 8, the mean sertraline dosage was 144 mg/day (median = 150 mg/day). Mean changes from baseline to endpoint in MADRS scores were -19.1 and -18.4 for the escitalopram and sertraline groups, respectively. At endpoint, 75% and 70% of escitalopram- and sertraline-treated patients, respectively, were responders (> or =50% improvement from baseline in mean MADRS scores). Both treatments were generally well tolerated; only 2% and 4% of patients prematurely discontinued escitalopram and sertraline treatment, respectively, due to adverse events.

Conclusion: No differences in efficacy were observed for fixed-dose escitalopram 10 mg/day and sertraline flexibly dosed from 50-200 mg/day. At these doses, both escitalopram and sertraline were generally well tolerated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Citalopram / administration & dosage
  • Citalopram / adverse effects
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / administration & dosage
  • Sertraline / adverse effects
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Citalopram
  • Sertraline