A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of risperidone augmentation for patients with difficult-to-treat unipolar, non-psychotic major depression

J Psychiatr Res. 2009 Jan;43(3):205-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2008.05.003. Epub 2008 Jun 30.


Objective: Patients (30-50%) with non-psychotic major depression will not respond despite an adequate trial of antidepressant medication. This study evaluated risperidone as an augmenting agent for patients who failed or only partially responded to an adequate trial of an antidepressant medication.

Method: Ninety-seven patients with unipolar non-psychotic major depression who were not responsive to antidepressant monotherapy were randomized to risperidone (0.5-3mg/day) or placebo augmentation in a four-week, double-blind, placebo controlled treatment trial. The primary outcome measure was remission defined by a score of < or =10 on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Secondary outcomes measures were the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, the Clinician Global Impression of Severity scale and the overall satisfaction item of the Quality of Life and Enjoyment Questionnaire.

Results: Subjects in both treatment groups improved significantly over time. The odds of remitting were significantly better for patients in the risperidone vs. placebo arm (OR=3.33, p=.011). At the end of 4 weeks of treatment 52% of the risperidone augmentation group remitted (MADRS< or =10) compared to 24% of the placebo augmentation group (CMH(1)=6.48, p=.011), but the two groups were converging. Patients in the risperidone group also reported significantly more improvement in quality-of-life than patients in the placebo group. There were no between-group differences in the number of adverse events reported, however, weight gain was significantly higher in the group receiving risperidone.

Conclusion: Augmentation of an antidepressant with risperidone for patients with difficult-to-treat depression leads to more rapid response and a higher remission rate and better quality-of-life.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Placebos
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life
  • Remission Induction / methods
  • Risperidone / administration & dosage
  • Risperidone / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Placebos
  • Risperidone