• depression;
  • combined treatment;
  • long-term effects;
  • childhood trauma

Zobel I, Kech S, van Calker D, Dykierek P, Berger M, Schneibel R, Schramm E. Long-term effect of combined interpersonal psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in a randomized trial of depressed patients.

Objective:  Evaluation of the long-term benefits of combined pharmacological and psychotherapeutic depression treatment and the differential impact of early childhood trauma.

Method:  A randomized trial was conducted in 124 in-patients with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder comparing 5 weeks of interpersonal psychotherapy plus pharmacotherapy (IPT) with medication plus clinical management (CM). The study included a prospective, naturalistic follow-up 3, 12 and 75 months after in-patient treatment. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) served as the primary outcome measure.

Results:  Patients in both treatments reduced their depressive symptoms between baseline and 5-year follow-up significantly with a faster decrease early in the follow-up phase. The time rate of change and acceleration on the HRSD was higher for patients in the combination therapy group. The contrast between the conditions at year 5 was non-significant. However, 28% of the IPT patients showed a sustained remission compared with 11% of the CM patients (P = 0.032). Early adversity was found to be a moderator of the relationship between treatment and outcome.

Conclusion:  In the long-term, a combination of psycho- and pharmacotherapy was superior in terms of sustained remission rates to standard psychiatric treatment. Early trauma should be assessed routinely in depressed patients.