ShareThis Page

Pitt to study depression treatment options for older adults

Ben Schmitt
| Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 4:54 p.m.
Dr. Jordan Karp (front left) and Dr. Charles F. Reynolds III (front right) are helping to lead a team of University of Pittsburgh researchers studying how older adults can better manage depression symptoms.
Dr. Jordan Karp (front left) and Dr. Charles F. Reynolds III (front right) are helping to lead a team of University of Pittsburgh researchers studying how older adults can better manage depression symptoms.

University of Pittsburgh researchers are part of a new study aimed at helping older adults better manage depression symptoms.

Pitt is recruiting up to 300 participants 60 and older to determine whether new or additional anti­depressants are effective in battling the disease. Similar research will be done in New York, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Toronto.

“Depressed older adults often see little benefit from the medications that we typically use to treat depression,” said Dr. Jordan Karp, associate professor of psychiatry, anesthesiology, and clinical and translational science at Pitt's School of Medicine.

More than half of depressed older adults do not respond to the antidepressant medications they take, Karp said.

“We don't yet know what the safe and effective treatment options are for these patients,” Karp said. “Older adults likely respond differently to medications than younger people, and this study will break new ground by identifying those differences.”

The five-year study is called OPTIMUM. Costs are being covered by a $13.5 million grant from the Washington-based Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute — an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress.

Major depressive disorder affects 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population 18 and older.

“It's normal to be concerned about maintaining brain health and independence as you age,” said Pitt's Dr. Charles F. Reynolds III, a geriatric psychiatrist. “A way to preserve these functions and keep people more active and healthy in their community is to reduce risk factors. By finding ways to treat difficult depression, we can reduce a potent risk factor for many of these concerns that plague older adults.”

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me