Advances in Pharmacotherapy of Late-Life Depression

  • John L. Beyer
  • Kim G. JohnsonEmail author
Geriatric Disorders (W McDonald, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Geriatric Disorders


Purpose of Summary

This paper reviews recent research on late-life depression (LLD) pharmacotherapy, focusing on updated information for monotherapy and augmentation treatments. We then review new research on moderators of clinical response and how to use the information for improved efficacy.

Recent Findings

A recent review shows that sertraline, paroxetine, and duloxetine were superior to placebo for the treatment of LLD. There is concern that paroxetine could have adverse outcomes in the geriatric population due to anticholinergic properties; however, studies show no increases in mortality, dementia risk, or cognitive measures. Among newer antidepressants, vortioxetine has demonstrated efficacy in LLD, quetiapine has demonstrated efficacy especially for patients with sleep disturbances, and aripiprazole augmentation for treatment resistance in LLD was found to be safe and effective. Researchers have also been identifying moderators of LLD that can guide treatment. Researchers are learning how to associate moderators, neuroanatomical models, and antidepressant response.


SSRI/SNRIs remain first-line treatment for LLD. Aripiprazole is an effective and safe augmentation for treatment resistance. Studies are identifying actionable moderators that can increase treatment response.


Late-life depression Pharmacotherapy Treatment response moderators 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Kim G. Johnson declares no conflict of interest. John L. Beyer has received grants from Allergan, Forest, Janssen, Takeda, and Sunovion.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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