Psychostimulants for depression in hospitalized cancer patients

Psychosomatics. Jan-Feb 1996;37(1):57-62. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(96)71599-2.


The hospital charts of 59 hospitalized oncology patients who had been treated with either dextroamphetamine or methylphenidate for depression during a 5-year period at the Massachusetts General Hospital were examined. Eighty-three percent of the patients showed at least some improvement following psychostimulant treatment. Seventy-three percent of all patients demonstrated marked or moderate depressive symptom improvement. No significant differences in efficacy were noted between the two psychostimulants, or across psychiatric diagnostic categories for depression. The patients improved quickly, usually within the first 2 days of treatment. Ten percent of the patients experienced adverse reactions warranting discontinuation of the psychostimulants. Fifty-four percent of all patients had some appetite improvement. Anorexia was not observed as a treatment side effect. The authors conclude that psychostimulants are an effective and safe method of treatment for the depressed oncology patient.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Dextroamphetamine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine