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Impulsive Aggressive Behavior: Open-Label Treatment With Citalopram

J Clin Psychiatry 2003;64:81-85

Background: Results from open-label and placebo-controlled trials suggest that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors reduce impulsive aggressive behavior. The objective of this open-label study was to investigate whether citalopram treatment has anti-aggressive effect on impulsive aggressive subjects meeting DSM-IV criteria for a cluster B personality disorder or intermittent explosive disorder.

Method: In this 8-week trial, subjects were initiated on 20 mg/day of citalopram and titrated up to 60 mg/day by the fourth week, if tolerated. The primary outcome measure was the Overt Aggression Scale-Modified (OAS-M), a scale used to quantify verbal and physical aggression, subjective irritability, and overt irritability. Secondary outcome measures included the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory.

Results: Of 25 subjects enrolled, 20 completed the study. The mean daily dose was 45.5 mg, and citalopram was generally well tolerated. Statistically significant decreases were found in the OAS-M aggression scores (32.82±19.76 to 4.73±7.57, p=.000), subjective irritability scores (3.50±0.60 to 1.45±1.18, p=.000), and overt irritability scores (3.23±0.81 to 0.91±1.02, p=.000).

Conclusion: These results suggest that citalopram is an effective treatment for reducing impulsive aggressive behavior.