Background: Nearly two-thirds of elderly patients treated for depression fail to achieve symptomatic remission and functional recovery with first-line pharmacotherapy. In this study, we ask whether a mind-body exercise, Tai Chi Chih (TCC), added to escitalopram will augment the treatment of geriatric depression designed to achieve symptomatic remission and improvements in health functioning and cognitive performance.
Methods: : One hundred twelve older adults with major depression age 60 years and older were recruited and treated with escitalopram for approximately 4 weeks. Seventy-three partial responders to escitalopram continued to receive escitalopram daily and were randomly assigned to 10 weeks of adjunct use of either 1) TCC for 2 hours per week or 2) health education (HE) for 2 hours per week. All participants underwent evaluations of depression, anxiety, resilience, health-related quality of life, cognition, and inflammation at baseline and during 14-week follow-up.
Results: Subjects in the escitalopram and TCC condition were more likely to show greater reduction of depressive symptoms and to achieve a depression remission as compared with those receiving escitalopram and HE. Subjects in the escitalopram and TCC condition also showed significantly greater improvements in 36-Item Short Form Health Survey physical functioning and cognitive tests and a decline in the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein, compared with the control group.
Conclusion: : Complementary use of a mind-body exercise, such as TCC, may provide additional improvements of clinical outcomes in the pharmacologic treatment of geriatric depression.