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Olanzapine Therapy in Treatment-Resistant Psychotic Mood Disorders: A Long-Term Follow-Up Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(7):509-516

Background: Recent studies suggest a role for the atypical antipsychotic olanzapine in the acute treatment of psychotic mood disorders, but long-term data are unavailable. The purpose of this naturalistic study was to determine the long-term effectiveness and tolerability of olanzapine as add-on therapy in psychotic mood disorders.

Method: Hospital records were reviewed for 125 inpatients at the state psychiatric hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., who received at least 6 weeks of add-on olanzapine treatment for psychotic mood disorders (schizoaffective disorders [bipolar and depressive type], bipolar disorders [I, II, and NOS], and major depressive disorder). A group of schizophrenic patients served as a control group (N = 50). Baseline measures, including age, gender, number of hospitalizations in the 2 years prior to olanzapine treatment, concomitant medications, the Clinical Global Impressions scale (CGI), and the Global Assessment of Functioning-Equivalent (GAF-EQ) and Kennedy Axis V psychological impairment, violence, social skills, and activities of daily living subscale scores, were obtained. Follow-up information was obtained from the patients at least 6 months after initiation of olanzapine or by chart review and discussion with the treating psychiatrist. Patients with a diagnosis of psychotic mood disorders were compared with patients with the nonaffective psychotic disorder (schizophrenia) on a variety of outcome measures.

Results: Follow-up information was available on 102 patients (82%). Mean follow-up was 15 months; 50 (49%) of the 102 patients remained on olanzapine treatment at follow-up (32 psychotic mood disorder, 18 schizophrenic). The primary reason for discontinuation in both groups was lack of response. Both the psychotic mood disorder and schizophrenic groups had comparable outcomes on the CGI and GAF-EQ. Improvement on the Kennedy Axis V psychological impairment and social skills subscales was seen only in the psychotic mood disorders group (p < .01); both groups showed significant (p < .02) improvement in the violence subscale. Sustained mood-stabilizing effect was evident in only 7/27 (26%) of the psychotic mood disorders patients continuing on add-on olanzapine treatment at follow-up.

Conclusion: Lack of response was the primary reason for discontinuation of add-on olanzapine in both groups. Mood symptoms predicted a better response to add-on olanzapine in patients with psychotic mood disorders on selective outcome measures. However, only 26% of the patients with psychotic mood disorders sustained a clinically meaningful mood-stabilizing effect with add-on olanzapine treatment at follow-up.