Preliminary report: Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of fluoxetine in depressed alcoholics

J. R. Cornelius, I. M. Salloum, M. D. Cornelius, J. M. Perel, J. G. Ehler, P. J. Jarrett, R. L. Levin, A. Black, J. J. Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The selective serotonergic agonist fluoxetine has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of depression and has possible efficacy in the treatment of nondepressed and depressed alcoholics. However, no double-blind, placebo- controlled trials with any selective serotonergic medication have been reported in patients who have both major depression and alcoholism. In this study, 21 patients with DSM-III-R diagnoses of both major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence were randomized to fluoxetine or placebo in a 12- week, double-blind, parallel group trial. The patients reported a high level of current episode (52.4%), prior episode(61.9%), and lifetime (76.2%) suicidal behavior. Total alcohol consumption during the 12-week treatment course was significantly lower in the fluoxetine group than the placebo group, after controlling for baseline differences in consumption. The fluoxetine group demonstrated a four-fold greater improvement in depressive symptoms, but this difference did not reach statistical significance in this small sample. These preliminary findings suggest that fluoxetine has potential for treating the excessive alcohol ingestion of depressed alcoholics and may have potential for treating the depressive symptoms of these patients as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-303
Number of pages7
JournalPsychopharmacology bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • alcoholism
  • depression
  • fluoxetine
  • suicidality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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