A comparative analysis of standard and alternative antidepressants in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus patients

Compr Psychiatry. 1996 Nov-Dec;37(6):402-8. doi: 10.1016/s0010-440x(96)90023-1.


Our research group has conducted clinical trials of standard (imipramine, fluoxetine, and sertraline) and alternative antidepressants (dextroamphetamine and testosterone replacement therapy) in the treatment of clinical depression among patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) illness. This report presents secondary analyses of data pooled from these trials with the purpose of comparing the antidepressant efficacy of these various agents. In all trials, a DSM-III-R depressive disorder was the primary criterion for study entry, and each treatment resulted in significant improvement after both 2 and 6 weeks of treatment according to the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS). Response rates for standard antidepressants ranged from 70% to 74%, with similar, high response rates found in trials of dextroamphetamine (93%) and testosterone (81%). The response rate of each active drug treatment was superior to that of placebo (33%). Each treatment was well-tolerated in terms of side effects, and there was essentially no effect of any treatment on CD4 cell count. Differences in trial design, entrance criteria, and measurements require that caution be used in interpreting these results; nonetheless, each of the five treatments studied demonstrated strong efficacy and possessed relatively unique benefits, providing health care providers with valuable treatment options in addressing individual needs of patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • 1-Naphthylamine / analogs & derivatives
  • 1-Naphthylamine / pharmacology
  • 1-Naphthylamine / therapeutic use
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count / drug effects
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Dextroamphetamine / pharmacology
  • Dextroamphetamine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Imipramine / pharmacology
  • Imipramine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Patient Selection
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sertraline
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Testosterone / pharmacology
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Fluoxetine
  • Testosterone
  • 1-Naphthylamine
  • Imipramine
  • Sertraline
  • Dextroamphetamine