Mirtazapine in comorbid major depression and alcohol dependence: An open-label trial

Jack R. Cornelius, Antoine B. Douaihy, Duncan B. Clark, Tammy Chung, D. Scott Wood, Dennis Daley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: This was a first pilot study evaluating the acute phase (8-week) efficacy of the antidepressant medication mirtazapine for the treatment of depressive symptoms and drinking of subjects with comorbid major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence (MDD/AD). We hypothesized that mirtazapine would demonstrate within-group efficacy for the treatment of both depressive symptoms and drinking in these subjects. Methods: We conducted a first open-label study of the second-generation antidepressant mirtazapine in 12 adult outpatient subjects with comorbid MDD/AD. The pharmacological profile of that medication is unique among antidepressants, unrelated to tricyclics or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Results: Mirtazapine was well tolerated in this treatment population. Self-reported depressive symptoms decreased from 31.8 to 8.3 on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a 74.0% decrease (p <.001), and drinking decreased from 33.9 to 13.3 drinks per week, a 60.8% decrease (p <.05). None of the subjects were employed full time at baseline, but 9 of the 12 (75%) were employed full time at the end the of study. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest efficacy for mirtazapine for treating both the depressive symptoms and excessive alcohol use of comorbid major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence. Double-blind studies are warranted to further clarify the efficacy of mirtazapine in this population.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)200-204
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Dual Diagnosis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • alcohol dependence
  • comorbid
  • major depression
  • mirtazapine


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