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Venlafaxine for the treatment of depressive episode during the course of schizophrenia

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Background

The emergence of depression in the course of schizophrenia is common and arouses much interest and therapeutic concern. It has been associated with a less-favorable prognosis and increased incidence of suicide. However, relatively few treatment studies have been performed in this area. The use of a combination of antidepressants and antipsychotic agents is controversial.

Material and Methods

We report an open-label study carried out to evaluate the efficacy of the addition of venlafaxine in schizophrenia patients treated with antipsychotics and diagnosed with concurrent depressive episode (DSM-IV criteria). Patients (n = 19) who did not show spontaneous improvement after 4 weeks were assigned to a six-week trial with add-on venlafaxine. Patients were evaluated at a one-week interval with the HAM-D, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and the Clinical Global Impression Scale.

Results

All 19 patients had completed the six week trial.14 patients (74%) showed significant improvement measured with HAM-D and CGI. The mean venlafaxine dose was 146 mg/day (range: 75–300 mg/d). In most patients there was a parallel decrease in psychotic symptoms.

Discussion

We demonstrate that venlafaxine is effective in the treatment of depression in patients with schizophrenia without causing exacerbation of psychosis.

Author information

Correspondence to D Mazeh.

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Mazeh, D., Shahal, B., Saraf, R. et al. Venlafaxine for the treatment of depressive episode during the course of schizophrenia. Ann Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2, S153 (2003) doi:10.1186/1475-2832-2-S1-S153

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Keywords

  • Public Health
  • Schizophrenia
  • Venlafaxine
  • Psychotic Symptom
  • Depressive Episode