A systematic review of antidepressant placebo-controlled trials for geriatric depression: limitations of current data and directions for the future.
A significant drug-placebo difference was found in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of nortriptyline for treatment of major depression among frail elderly patients living in an institutional setting. This finding confirms the validity of the DSM-III-R diagnosis of major depression and establishes the need for specific psychiatric services for the chronically ill elderly living in nursing homes and congregate housing facilities. The incidence of adverse events requiring early termination of treatment was 34%, demonstrating the vulnerability of these patients and their need for careful monitoring during treatment. High levels of self-care disability and low levels of serum albumin were both associated with decreased therapeutic responses, demonstrating the need for further research on psychopathology in these settings.