Whether to Increase or Maintain Dosage of Mirtazapine in Early Nonimprovers With Depression

Objective: To compare outcomes between increasing versus maintaining the dose of mirtazapine in patients with depression without initial improvement.

Method: Data from a 6-week double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial of mirtazapine in major depressive disorder (DSM-IV) conducted from November 2004 to December 2005 were used. Percentages of remitters (ie, a score of ≤ 7 in the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale [HDRS-17]) and HDRS-17 score changes from baseline to week 6 were compared in the following 2 pairs, using Fisher exact test or mixed-effects model for repeated measures: (1) subjects who failed to show a ≥ 20% decrease in the HDRS-17 total scores at week 1 but were assigned to continue 15 mg/d (stay15 group) versus those who were assigned to increase the dose to 30 mg/d (increase30 group) and (2) subjects who failed to show a ≥ 20% decrease in the HDRS-17 total scores with 30 mg/d at week 2 but were assigned to continue 30 mg/d (stay30 group) versus those who were assigned to increase the dose to 45 mg/d (increase45 group).

Results: The increase30 group showed a numerically but not significantly higher remission rate and a significantly greater decrease in the HDRS-17 total score at week 6 than the stay15 group (34.7% [8 of 23 patients] vs 14.3% [3 of 21 patients], P = .2; least squares mean, −15.8 vs −10.9, P = .003). No significant differences were found between the increase45 and stay30 groups.

Conclusions: Dose increase of mirtazapine from 15 mg/d to 30 mg/d may be effective for patients with depression without initial improvement. However, effectiveness may not be the case beyond 30 mg/d.

Trial Registration: JapicCTI identifier: 152830

J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(4):434–439

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.14m09201