• citalopram;
  • nortriptyline;
  • elderly;
  • major depression

Objective: The aim of this single-blind study was to examine the efficacy and tolerability of citalopram compared to nortriptyline in moderate to severe major depressive patients aged 60 years or over.

Method: In- and out-patients (N=58) with unipolar major depression were randomized to 12-week flexible dose treatment with nortriptyline or citalopram.

Results: No significant differences between the number of drop-outs in either group were observed, but the autonomic side-effects were significantly higher for nortriptyline than for citalopram. A significantly higher remission rate to nortriptyline than to citalopram was demonstrated, particularly if severe patients (endogenous or psychotic patients) were assessed.

Conclusion: The remission rate to a therapeutic plasma level of nortriptyline appears to be higher than the remission rate to a standard dose of citalopram in a group of elderly major depressed patients, especially those with endogenous or psychotic features. On the other hand, citalopram appears to be better tolerated.