Predicting outcome of lithium added to antidepressants in resistant depression

E. Álvarez, V. Pérez-Solá, J. Pérez-Blanco, J. M. Queraltó, R. Torrubia, R. Noguera

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26 Citations (Scopus)


This study was conducted to assess the predictive value of different variables including the response to dexamethasone suppression test (DST), in 105 patients with resistant depression after the addition of lithium (600 to 800 mg/day) for 4 weeks to antidepressant medication. Clinical remission was observed in 57 patients and no improvement in 48. A dramatic and rapid relief of depression occurred in 12 patients. Variables with significant or marginally significant differences between responders and non-responders were included in a stepwise logistic regression model. Weight loss (P = 0.0013) and depressive psychomotor activity (P = 0.045) in the Newcastle diagnostic index (NDI) scale, and overall score of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) before adding the lithium (P = 0.0039) were significantly associated with clinical remission. The difference in post-DST cortisol plasma levels between both groups was marginally significant. The logistic equation resulted in a sensitivity of 78% and a specificity of 65% and total correct classification of the lithium-added response of 72%. The clinical profile of patients who improve with the addition of lithium may include significant weight loss, psychomotor retardation and possibly, poor control of cortisol secretion. Partial remission before adding lithium as well as endogenomorphic traits according to NDI may also be considered additional criteria for response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-186
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1997


  • antidepressants
  • depression
  • lithium
  • outcome
  • predictor
  • resistant depression


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