A comparative trial of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for "pure" dysthymic patients.

Psychotherapy of "pure" dysthymic disorder remains understudied. This article reports outcomes of an acute randomized trial of 94 subjects treated for 16 weeks with either interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), brief supportive psychotherapy (BSP), sertraline, or sertraline plus IPT.
Recruited by clinical referral and advertising, subjects met DSM-IV criteria for early onset dysthymic disorder, with no episode of major depression in the prior six months. They were randomly assigned to one of four 16-week treatments, with options for crossover or continuation treatment. Results were analyzed from the intention-to-treat sample by ANCOVA, controlling for baseline depressive severity.
Subjects improved in all conditions over time, with the cells including sertraline pharmacotherapy showing superiority over psychotherapy alone for response and remission. Response rates were 58% for sertraline alone, 57% for combined treatment, 35% for IPT, and 31% for BSP.
The study was underpowered and may have employed too "active" a control condition. Follow-up data were unobtainable.
In this acute trial for "pure" dysthymic disorder, sertraline with or without IPT showed advantages relative to IPT and BSP. Methodological difficulties may have limited differential outcome findings. This study bolsters a small but growing literature on the treatment of dysthymic disorder, suggesting that pharmacotherapy may acutely benefit patients more than psychotherapy.
AuthorsJohn C Markowitz, James H Kocsis, Kathryn L Bleiberg, Paul J Christos, Michael Sacks
JournalJournal of affective disorders (J Affect Disord) Vol. 89 Issue 1-3 Pg. 167-75 (Dec 2005) ISSN: 0165-0327 [Print] Netherlands
PMID16263177 (Publication Type: Comparative Study, Journal Article, Randomized Controlled Trial, Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't)
Chemical References
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Sertraline
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents (therapeutic use)
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dysthymic Disorder (diagnosis, psychology, therapy)
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychotherapy, Brief
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (therapeutic use)
  • Sertraline (therapeutic use)

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