Monoamine oxidase inhibitor-responsive depression

Earl Giller, Donald Bialos, Mark Riddle, Alan Sholomskas, Laurie Harkness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have documented the efficacy of some monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors in treating certain depressed patients. This preliminary report of a 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the MAO inhibitor isocarboxazid (Marplan) examines the time course of platelet MAO inhibitor isocarboxazid (Marplan) examines the time course of platelet MAO inhibition and treatment response, and describes symptoms that distinguish markedly improved from slightly improved responders. Thirty male outpatients, ages28-64, randomly divided into placebo (n=15) and active medication (n=15) groups, were followed weekly. Medication was started at 20 mg daily and increased to achieve 90% platelet MAO inhibition. Data were analyzed for 24 patients who completed at least 3 weeks of the study. A clinician's global change rating at the study's conclusion showed that 12 of 13 patients (92%) in the active medication group improved, while 3 of 11 (27%) patients in the placebo group improved. Significant symptomatic improvement occured in the active treatment group by week 3. Trends suggest that anxiety improved first (week 2), followed by depression (week 3), and finally cognitive outlook (week 6). Only minimal difficulties were observed with orthostatic hypotension, hypertensive crises, or other side effects. At baseline, the only significant difference between the markedly improved and slightly improved groups was greater psychomotor retardation in the markedly improved group. Trends suggest that the markedly improved group showed less depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and weight loss, fewer gastrointestinal complaints, and more helplessness and worthlessness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • isocarboxazid
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitor
  • recovery time course
  • response predictors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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