CNS Drugs

, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp 789–794 | Cite as

Spotlight on Sertraline in the Management of Major Depressive Disorder in Elderly Patients

  • Richard B.R. Muijsers
  • Greg L. Plosker
  • Stuart Noble
Adis Spotlight


Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) with well established antidepressant and anxiolytic activity. Results from several well designed trials show that sertraline (50–200 mg/day) is effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder in elderly patients (≥60 years of age). Primary endpoints in most studies included the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), Clinical Global Impression score and the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale. Sertraline was significantly more effective than placebo and was as effective as fluoxetine, nortriptyline and imipramine in elderly patients. During one trial, amitriptyline was significantly more effective than sertraline (mean reduction from baseline on one of six primary outcomes [HDRS]), although no quantitative data were provided. Subgroup analysis of data from a randomised, double-blind trial in elderly patients with major depressive disorder suggests that vascular morbidity, diabetes mellitus or arthritis does not affect the antidepressant effect of sertraline.

Secondary endpoints from these clinical trials suggest that sertraline has significant benefits over nortriptyline in terms of quality of life. In addition, significant differences favouring sertraline in comparison with nortriptyline and fluoxetine have been recorded for a number of cognitive functioning parameters.

Sertraline is generally well tolerated in elderly patients with major depressive disorder and lacks the marked anticholinergic effects that characterise the adverse event profiles of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). The most frequently reported adverse events in patients aged ≥60 years with major depressive disorder receiving sertraline 50–150 mg/day were dry mouth, headache, diarrhoea, nausea, insomnia, 1 This spotlight is derived from abstract and summary text of an Adis Drug Evaluation originally published in Drugs & Aging 2002; 19 (5): 377-92. somnolence, constipation, dizziness, sweating and taste abnormalities. The tolerability profile of sertraline is generally similar in younger and elderly patients.

Sertraline has a low potential for drug interactions at the level of the cytochrome P450 enzyme system. In addition, no dosage adjustments are warranted for elderly patients solely based on age.


Sertraline is an effective and well tolerated antidepressant for the treatment of major depressive disorder in patients aged ≥60 years. Since elderly patients are particularly prone to the anticholinergic effects of TCAs as a class, SSRIs such as sertraline are likely to be a better choice for the treatment of major depressive disorder in this age group. In addition, sertraline may have advantages over the SSRIs paroxetine, fluoxetine and fluvoxamine in elderly patients because of the drug’s comparatively low potential for drug interactions, which is of importance in patient groups such as the elderly who are likely to receive more than one drug regimen.


Fluoxetine Sertraline Major Depressive Disorder Nortriptyline Propafenone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The full text article in Drugs & Aging 2002; 19 (5): 377-92 was reviewed by: I.M. Anderson, Neuroscience and Psychiatry Unit, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom; G. De Sarro, Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Cantanzaro, Cantanzaro, Italy; S.I. Finkel, Leonard Schanfield Research Institute, Council for Jewish Elderly, Chicago, Illinois, USA; O.V. Forlenza, Laboratory of Neuroscience, Institute of Psychiatry, University of Säo Paulo, Säo Paulo, Brazil; C.G. Gottfries, University Hospital, Molndal, Sweden; I. Kurzthaler, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria; S.H. Preskorn, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Kansas, Wichita, Kansas, USA.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard B.R. Muijsers
    • 1
  • Greg L. Plosker
    • 1
  • Stuart Noble
    • 1
  1. 1.Adis International LimitedMairangi Bay, Auckland 10New Zealand

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