A double-blind study of paroxetine, fluoxetine, and placebo in outpatients with major depression

Ann Clin Psychiatry. 1998 Dec;10(4):145-50. doi: 10.1023/a:1022337927842.


We report results from a multicenter, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind comparison of the efficacy and tolerability of paroxetine and fluoxetine in outpatients with major depression. Across five U.S. sites, 128 outpatients (mean age: 41.3 +/- 12.6; 63 men and 65 women) with moderate to moderately severe major depression without a history of mania or hypomania were recruited between 1993 and 1994. All 128 patients completed a 1-week placebo washout period, and were then randomized to 12 weeks of double-blind treatment with paroxetine up to 50 mg/day (n = 55), fluoxetine up to 80 mg/day (n = 54), or placebo (n = 19). Subjects were evaluated weekly for the first 4 weeks, then at weeks 6, 9, and 12 with the 21-item HAMD and the Covi Anxiety Scale. There were no significant differences among the three treatment groups in baseline and endpoint depression and anxiety severity, as well as in the degree of depression and anxiety improvement. There were no statistically significant differences in rates or mean numbers of adverse events between paroxetine-treated patients and fluoxetine-treated patients. In summary, our results, although limited by the lack of a significant difference from placebo in treatment outcome, suggest that the SSRIs paroxetine and fluoxetine have comparable antidepressant and antianxiety efficacies among depressed outpatients, as well as similar safety and tolerability profiles.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / adverse effects
  • Fluoxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paroxetine / adverse effects
  • Paroxetine / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Placebos
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / chemically induced
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Placebos
  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine