Multicenter double-blind comparison of sertraline and desipramine for concurrent obsessive-compulsive and major depressive disorders

Rudolf Hoehn-Saric, Philip Ninan, Donald W. Black, Stephen Stahl, John H. Greist, Bruce Lydiard, Susan McElroy, John Zajecka, Douglass Chapman, Cathryn Clary, Wilma Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Background: Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) have demonstrated consistent efficacy in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), while agents that are primarily norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors have not. Comparable efficacy has been demonstrated for SRI and non-SRI antidepressants in uncomplicated major depressive disorder (MDD). This multicenter trial is the first comparison of an SRI (sertraline) and a non-SRI antidepressant (desipramine) in the treatment of OCD with concurrent MDD. Methods: One hundred sixty-six patients diagnosed using structured clinical interviews and recruited from 16 treatment sites were randomly assigned to double-blind treatment with either sertraline (up to 200 mg/d) or desipramine (up to 300 mg/d) over 12 weeks. Measures of severity of OCD and MDD symptoms, as well as adverse effects of the medications, were monitored over the course of the treatment period. Results: Patients assigned to sertraline responded significantly better at end point on measures of OCD and MDD symptoms compared with patients assigned to desipramine. Sertraline was also associated with a significantly greater number of patients who achieved a 'robust' improvement in OCD symptoms (≥40% reduction) compared with desipramine. More patients receiving desipramine than sertraline discontinued treatment because of adverse events. Conclusions: The SRI sertraline was more effective in reducing MDD and OCD symptoms than the primarily norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor desipramine for patients with concurrent OCD and MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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