Making Depression Less Debilitating

Home page Description: 
Antidepressant drug not only improves mood, but also depression-related cognitive impairment.
Image Caption: 
Poor workplace performance and sick days due to depression are major contributors to the $83 billion annual costs attributed to the disease.

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in North America. Its symptoms include persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, low self-esteem and loss of interest or pleasure.
 
Depression can also impair a person’s ability to think, concentrate, form memories and solve problems. These “cognitive deficits” can persist even after mood has improved and can interfere with social interactions and workplace performance. Presently, there are no treatments available that specifically target these deficits.
 
To address this, Krembil Clinician Investigator Dr. Roger McIntyre examined the effectiveness of two conventional antidepressants—vortioxetine and duloxetine—in treating the cognitive deficits associated with depression.
 
Dr. McIntyre and colleagues examined the outcomes of three clinical trials that enrolled a total of 1,652 participants diagnosed with depression. Each participant had received either vortioxetine, duloxetine or a placebo containing no drug for eight weeks. Their depressive symptoms and mental function were assessed before and after treatment. Dr. McIntyre and his colleagues’ careful statistical analyses revealed that the study participants who received vortioxetine experienced significant and consistent improvements in cognitive function; however, those who received duloxetine did not.
 
“These findings suggest that vortioxetine could be a more effective treatment for depression—by improving mood and cognitive impairments,” says Dr. McIntyre. “However, more research and longer-term clinical studies are needed before we can confirm this.”
 
This work was supported by H. Lundbeck A/S, the Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited and the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.
 
The effects of vortioxetine on cognitive function in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD): a meta-analysis of three randomized controlled trials. McIntyre RS, Harrison J, Loft H, Jacobson W, Olsen CK. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacoly. doi: 10.1093/ijnp/pyw055. 2016 June 15. [Pubmed abstract