Pharmacotherapy for Depression Posttraumatic Brain Injury: A Meta-analysis

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To examine the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy for the treatment of depression following traumatic brain injury (TBI).


Systematic review and meta-analysis. Multiple electronic databases were searched to identify relevant studies examining effectiveness of pharmacotherapy for depression post-TBI. Clinical trials evaluating the use of pharmacotherapy in individuals with depression at baseline and using standardized assessments of depression were included. Data abstracted included sample size, antidepressant used, treatment timing/duration, method of assessment, and results pertaining to impact of treatment. Study quality was assessed using a modified Jadad scale.


Nine studies met criteria for inclusion. Pooled analyses based on reported means (standard deviations) from repeated assessments of depression showed that, over time, antidepressant treatment was associated with a significant effect in favor of treatment (Hedges g = 1.169; 95% confidence interval, 0.849-1.489; P < .001). Similarly, when limited to placebo-controlled trials, treatment was associated with a significant reduction in symptoms (standardized mean difference = 0.84; 95% confidence interval, 0.314-1.366; P = .002).


Pharmacotherapy after TBI may be associated with a reduction in depressive symptomatology. Given limitations within the available literature, further well-powered, placebo-controlled trials should be conducted to confirm the effectiveness of antidepressant therapy in this population.

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