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Table 1. Pharmacological Intervention Studies of Bereavement-Related Depression

Reference Citation Study Type Subjects Age (y) Treatment Results 
[12]Open label8 women, 2 menMean not reported; range, 26–65Desipramine7 subjects much improveda; 2 subjects minimally improved; 1 dropout
[13]Open label8 women, 5 menMean, 71.1; range, 61–78NortriptylineMean HDRS scores decreased 67.9%; no dropouts
[14]Open label17 women, 5 menMean, 63.5; range, 45–83Bupropion SRMean HDRS scores decreased 54%; 8 dropouts
[15]bRandomized controlled58 women, 22 menMean range for 4 groups, 63.2–69.5Nortriptyline vs. placebo vs. NTP+IPT or PLA+IPTNTP statistically significant compared to PLA; NTP+IPT group had lowest attrition rate

HDRS = Hamilton Depression Rating Scale; IPT = interpersonal psychotherapy; NTP = nortriptyline; PLA = placebo; SR = sustained release.
aImprovement based on the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) rating after review of the decline in HDRS score.
bSee text for details.


  1. Jacobs SC, Nelson JC, Zisook S: Treating depressions of bereavement with antidepressants. A pilot study. Psychiatr Clin North Am 10 (3): 501-10, 1987.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  2. Pasternak RE, Reynolds CF 3rd, Schlernitzauer M, et al.: Acute open-trial nortriptyline therapy of bereavement-related depression in late life. J Clin Psychiatry 52 (7): 307-10, 1991.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Zisook S, Shuchter SR, Pedrelli P, et al.: Bupropion sustained release for bereavement: results of an open trial. J Clin Psychiatry 62 (4): 227-30, 2001.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  4. Reynolds CF 3rd, Miller MD, Pasternak RE, et al.: Treatment of bereavement-related major depressive episodes in later life: a controlled study of acute and continuation treatment with nortriptyline and interpersonal psychotherapy. Am J Psychiatry 156 (2): 202-8, 1999.  [PUBMED Abstract]