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An 8-Week Open-Label Trial of a 6-Day Course of Mifepristone for the Treatment of Psychotic Depression

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(5):598-602

Objective: Several investigations suggest that mifepristone leads to the rapid amelioration of psychotic depression. However, these studies were of short duration (1 week or less) and included subjects who were taking other psychotropic medications. The goals of this study were to extend these findings by conducting an 8-week trial of mifepristone for subjects with psychotic depression who were taking no concomitant psychiatric medications.

Method: Twenty subjects with a DSM-IV major depressive episode with psychotic features (for convenience we use the term psychotic depression) taking no psychotropic medications were given a 6-day course of mifepristone and followed as inpatients for a total of 8 weeks. Nonblinded ratings using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) and Clinical Global Impressions scale (CGI) were performed at baseline and at the end of weeks 1, 4, and 8. The Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) was also administered at baseline and after weeks 4 and 8. Subjects were recruited between February 2003 and December 2003.

Results: Significant improvements in HAM-D and CGI scores were shown after 1 week and between weeks 1 and 4 but not between weeks 4 and 8. BPRS scores improved significantly after week 4, while the improvement in BPRS scores between weeks 4 and 8 was of borderline significance.

Conclusion: Mifepristone appears to be a useful intervention for psychotic depression, leading to significant improvements even after a 1-week course of administration. Issues related to its optimal dosing and to prediction of response are discussed, as are the implications of lack of a placebo group and the use of nonblinded ratings in the present study.