2019 Volume 58 Issue 3 Pages 361-368
Objective Depression, apathy, and gait instability are cardinal symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are used for treating the psychiatric symptoms of PD. This is the first prospective randomized study to compare the efficacy of an SNRI (duloxetine) with SSRIs (paroxetine, escitalopram) in improving depressive symptoms and apathy (primary) and freezing of gait (FOG; secondary) in patients with PD.
Methods In this prospective, multicenter, open-label, randomized study, Japanese PD patients with a Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Japanese (QIDS-J) score ≥6 were randomly assigned to receive an SSRI (27 enrolled, 25 analyzed) or duloxetine (28 enrolled, 27 analyzed) and were assessed at 6 and 10 weeks.
Results The mean change (SD) in the QIDS J [SSRI -2.4 (3.6), p=0.015; SNRI -2.3 (3.9), p=0.029] and FOG-Questionnaire [SSRI -2.9 (4.2), p=0.012; SNRI -3.4 (4.7), p=0.010] scores (from baseline) at 10 weeks was statistically significant, while the mean change in the Apathy Scale scores was not [SSRI -2.7 (5.4), p=0.054; SNRI -1.5 (3.7), p=0.109]. No significant differences were observed between the SSRI and SNRI groups. The treatments were well-tolerated; however, gastrointestinal events were more common with SSRIs. Two SNRI-treated patients reported an exacerbation of tremor.
Conclusion SSRIs and SNRIs improve the depressive symptoms and FOG in PD patients with mild to severe depressive symptoms. However, their effectiveness in treating apathy remains to be elucidated.