JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Citalopram versus other anti-depressive agents for depression

Andrea Cipriani, Marianna Purgato, Toshi A Furukawa, Carlotta Trespidi, Giuseppe Imperadore, Alessandra Signoretti, Rachel Churchill, Norio Watanabe, Corrado Barbui
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012 July 11, (7): CD006534
22786497

BACKGROUND: Recent US and UK clinical practice guidelines recommend that second-generation antidepressants should be considered amongst the best first-line options when drug therapy is indicated for a depressive episode. Systematic reviews have already highlighted some differences in efficacy between second-generation antidepressants. Citalopram, one of the first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) introduced in the market, is one of these antidepressant drugs that clinicians use for routine depression care.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the evidence for the efficacy, acceptability and tolerability of citalopram in comparison with tricyclics, heterocyclics, other SSRIs and other conventional and non-conventional antidepressants in the acute-phase treatment of major depression.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched The Cochrane Collaboration Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Controlled Trials Register and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials up to February 2012. No language restriction was applied. We contacted pharmaceutical companies and experts in this field for supplemental data.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials allocating patients with major depression to citalopram versus any other antidepressants.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently extracted data. Information extracted included study characteristics, participant characteristics, intervention details and outcome measures in terms of efficacy (the number of patients who responded or remitted), patient acceptability (the number of patients who failed to complete the study) and tolerability (side-effects).

MAIN RESULTS: Thirty-seven trials compared citalopram with other antidepressants (such as tricyclics, heterocyclics, SSRIs and other antidepressants, either conventional ones, such as mirtazapine, venlafaxine and reboxetine, or non-conventional, like hypericum). Citalopram was shown to be significantly less effective than escitalopram in achieving acute response (odds ratio (OR) 1.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08 to 2.02), but more effective than paroxetine (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.44 to 0.96) and reboxetine (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.91). Significantly fewer patients allocated to citalopram withdrew from trials due to adverse events compared with patients allocated to tricyclics (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.78) and fewer patients allocated to citalopram reported at least one side effect than reboxetine or venlafaxine (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.97 and OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.88, respectively).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Some statistically significant differences between citalopram and other antidepressants for the acute phase treatment of major depression were found in terms of efficacy, tolerability and acceptability. Citalopram was more efficacious than paroxetine and reboxetine and more acceptable than tricyclics, reboxetine and venlafaxine, however, it seemed to be less efficacious than escitalopram. As with most systematic reviews in psychopharmacology, the potential for overestimation of treatment effect due to sponsorship bias and publication bias should be borne in mind when interpreting review findings. Economic analyses were not reported in the included studies, however, cost effectiveness information is needed in the field of antidepressant trials.

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