Summary of efficacy data of IPT for depression in older adults

Charles Reynolds, Ellen Frank and colleagues have carried out much of the research investigating IPT's efficacy as a treatment for depression in older adults in Pittsburgh (Reynolds et al., 1996, 1999a, 1999b). In reviewing the evidence for the treatment efficacy of IPT for late-life depression, Gatz et al. (1998) state that, while IPT is a treatment of 'well-established' efficacy for depression in adults, there is insufficient evidence to come to this conclusion for older adults.

A number of individual studies have evaluated IPT for depression in older adults. Miller et al. (1998) report that 80% of patients receiving a combination of IPT and the antidepressant nortriptyline (NT) show a full response to treatment (defined as a score of less than 10 on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression for at least 3 consecutive weeks). Reynolds et al. (1999b) evaluated the effectiveness of maintenance NT and IPT for the prevention of recurrence of depression in older adults. Maintenance IPT and NT in combination were superior to either treatment alone, and all active treatments were superior to placebo and medication clinic visits. Thus, overall, there are some good grounds for optimism that IPT represents another treatment option for depression in older adults. As much of the research in this form of psychological treatment comes from one specialist psychiatric research laboratory, there is a need for more research before definitive conclusions can be reached about the efficacy of IPT for depression in older adults.

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