Aripiprazole Improves Outcomes in Older Adults with Treatment-Resistant Depression: Study Findings

A clinical trial conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Psychiatry, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that adding the medication aripiprazole to the antidepressant being taken by older patients with difficult-to-treat depression improved participant well-being and resulted in higher depression remission rates.

The results of the study showed that 30% of patients with treatment-resistant depression experienced improvements when aripiprazole was added to their antidepressant regimen, compared to only 20% who switched to a different antidepressant.

The study was primarily conducted by Eric J. Lenze, MD, the Wallace and Lucille Renard Professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University, and co-authored by Jordan F. Karp, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson.[0]

The trial was funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), grant TRD-1511-33321.[1] No financial or material support was provided by pharmaceutical companies.[2] Other funding was provided by the Taylor Family Institute for Innovative Psychiatric Research at Washington University School of Medicine and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).[1]

Lenze explained that it would be beneficial to have an evidence-based strategy that can help patients feel better as quickly as possible.[0] He also mentioned that even though the approach helped 30% of people in the study with treatment-resistant depression, more effective treatments are needed to help more people.[3]

In 2002, the FDA approved aripiprazole as a treatment for schizophrenia. Additionally, it has been used in lower doses as an additional treatment for severe depression in younger individuals who have not had a positive reaction to antidepressants alone.[4]

Overall, the study found that adding aripiprazole to an antidepressant was the most effective approach in treating older adults with clinical depression who did not respond to standard treatments. The study authors underscored the need to find more efficient treatment strategies for these patients, as depression and anxiety in older adults may accelerate cognitive decline.[4]

0. “Clinical Study on Augmenting Medications for Treatment-Resistant Depression in Older Adults Shows Promise” University of Arizona, 3 Mar. 2023,

1. “Antidepressant Augmentation versus Switch in Treatment-Resistant Geriatric Depression | NEJM”, 3 Mar. 2023,

2. “Adding antipsychotic med to antidepressant may help older adults with treatment-resistant depression” Newswise, 2 Mar. 2023,

3. “Adding meds to an antidepressant may help older adults with treatment-resistant depression” Tech Explorist, 4 Mar. 2023,

4. “This seems a better option than switching to another antidepressant, says new study” Revyuh, 3 Mar. 2023,

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