Retrospective Study of Olanzapine in Depressive and Anxious States in Primary Care

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Context: Bipolar spectrum and treatment-resistant unipolar mood disorders are increasingly identified in primary care settings. Olanzapine demonstrates efficacy in the treatment of acute mania and bipolar depression and in bipolar maintenance therapy. Olanzapine-fluoxetine combination therapy shows efficacy in treatment-resistant depression.

Objective: To examine the efficacy and tolerability profile of olanzapine in various difficult-to-treat depressive and/or anxious states in primary care outpatients.

Method: A retrospective chart review was conducted for all identifiable patients prescribed olanzapine for mood disorders (DSM-IV) during a 3-year period (July 1998-July 2001), utilizing clinician and nurse recall, sampling of general continuity clinic records, and a hand search of mood disorder clinic records.

Main and Secondary Outcome Measures: Initial and final scores on the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale, duration of therapy, and adverse effects.

Results: Thirty-seven patients were identified as having received treatment with olanzapine; 3 were referred to the mental health specialty sector at the time of treatment initiation, and 2 were lost to follow-up. Of the 32 patients receiving ongoing treatment by primary care clinicians, most were female (N = 23; 72%) and all were white (100%). Most were diagnosed with a mental illness in the bipolar spectrum (N = 25; 78%) and demonstrated treatment resistance with antidepressants and/or mood stabilizers (mean number of previous psychotropic medications = 3.7). In the group completing therapy (24 patients [75%]; mean duration of treatment = 242 days), GAF scores demonstrated a clinically and statistically significant improvement (mean initial GAF score = 59 ± 9; mean final GAF score = 76 ± 11; p < .0001).Twenty (83%) of these 24 patients demonstrated sustained improvement in their GAF scores. In the group that discontinued therapy (8 patients [25%]; mean duration of treatment = 123 days), GAF scores also demonstrated a clinically and statistically significant improvement (mean initial GAF score = 51 ± 15; mean final GAF score = 70 ± 11; p < .0001). Six (75%) of these 8 patients demonstrated sustained improvement in their GAF scores. For all patients, observed adverse effects included weight gain (25 patients [86%]; mean = 3.63 kg), sedation (6 patients [19%]), and dry mouth (1 patient [3%]).

Conclusion: Olanzapine shows promise as an effective pharmacotherapeutic agent for primary care patients with mood disorders that lie along the bipolar spectrum or that are resistant to treatment with antidepressant monotherapies, but is associated with mild-to-moderate weight gain.

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2004;6(5):199-202

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.v06n0504