129 chronic alcoholic patients, withdrawn from alcohol and presenting major depression or dysthymic disorder, were treated for 4–8 weeks under double-blind conditions either with a new antidepressant, tianeptine (37.5 mg per day), or with amitriptyline (75 mg per day). Both groups presented steady improvement of the symptoms of depression during treatment, as scored on the Montgomery and Asberg Depression Rating Scale and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist self-evaluation; for the latter scale, the improvement was significantly greater in the tianeptine group. In addition to the improvement of mood, tianeptine also produced significant reduction of the somatic complaints of the depressed patients. Furthermore, tianeptine possesses anxiolytic activity, as shown by the change of the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale global score, similar to that produced by amitriptyline. The anxiolytic activity of tianeptine was not accompanied by any impairment of vigilance, unlike that of amitriptyline. Tianeptine produced rare, mild anticholinergic effects. The results obtained show that tianeptine is an effective anxiolytic antidepressant, with better safety than amitriptyline, suitable for use in the treatment of mood disorders following alcohol withdrawal.

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