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Effects of Dextroamphetamine on Depression and Fatigue in Men With HIV: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61(6):436-440

Background: This report documents findings from a small placebo-controlled trial of dextroamphetamine for depression and fatigue in men with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Dextroamphetamine offers the potential for rapid onset of effect and activation properties, both of which are important to persons with medical illness and an uncertain, but limited, life expectancy.

Method: Primary inclusion criteria included the presence of a DSM-IV depressive disorder, debilitating fatigue, and no history of dependence on stimulants. The study consisted of a 2-week randomized, placebo-controlled trial, with the blind maintained until week 8 for responders, followed by open treatment through the completion of 6 months.

Results: Of 23 men who entered the study, 22 completed the 2-week trial. Intent-to-treat analysis indicated that 73% of patients (8/11) randomly assigned to dextroamphetamine reported significant improvement in mood and energy, compared with 25% (3/12) among placebo patients (Fisher exact test, p < .05). Both clinician- and self-administered measures indicated significantly improved mood, energy, and quality of life among patients taking dextroamphetamine. There was no evidence of the development of tolerance of, abuse of, or dependence on the medication.

Conclusion: These results suggest that dextroamphetamine is a potentially effective, fast-acting antidepressant treatment for HIV patients with depression and debilitating fatigue.