Background: Pharmacological interventions to treat depressive symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are limited. Whether selective serotonine re-uptake inhibitors increase parkinsonism or have clinically significant interactions with antiparkinsonian drugs is unresolved.
Purpose: We used a naturalistic approach to prospectively investigate the long-term effects on motor status of adding sertraline in a large sample of community-dwelling PD patients with depressive symptoms.
Methods: Main outcome measure was the motor part of the Unified PD Rating Scale (UPDRS) at baseline and at 1-, 3-, and 6-month follow-up. Secondary measures were the change in antiparkinsonian drugs expressed as total levodopa equivalent dose and the scores of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Of the 374 patients included, 310 (82%) completed the study.
Results: Treatment with sertraline (mean dose 66.0 ± 29.8 mg) resulted in improvement in all UPDRS domains along with a significant decrease of the HADS scores. A modest but significant increase of the total dose of levodopa, without significant change of total levodopa equivalent dose, was observed. Almost 8% of patients discontinued medication for adverse events, mainly related to the gastrointestinal system.
Conclusions: Although worsening of tremor was observed in some patients, active management of depression with sertraline appears to have a positive impact on parkinsonism.