Pharmacotherapy for late-life depression

J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;72(1):e04. doi: 10.4088/JCP.7085tx2cj.


The 2001 expert consensus guidelines for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) in geriatric patients recommended antidepressant treatment in combination with psychotherapy. Recent evidence continues to support the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors as first-line agents in the elderly, and although the transdermal monoamine oxidase inhibitor selegilene has shown promise in adult patients, it has not been studied in geriatric depression. Augmentation therapy with atypical antipsychotics or other agents may provide benefits for agitated, psychotic, or resistant MDD in the elderly. The few treatment studies that have been conducted in the geriatric population since the publication of the guidelines have had mixed results and high placebo response rates. More large controlled trials are needed.

Publication types

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MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Humans
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Placebo Effect
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Selegiline / administration & dosage
  • Selegiline / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
  • Selegiline