Does psychosocial functioning improve independent of depressive symptoms? A comparison of nefazodone, psychotherapy, and their combination

Robert M.A. Hirschfeld, David L. Dunner, Gabor Keitner, Daniel N. Klein, Lorrin M. Koran, Susan G. Kornstein, John C. Markowitz, Ivan Miller, Charles B. Nemeroff, Philip T. Ninan, A. John Rush, Alan F. Schatzberg, Michael E. Thase, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Frances E. Borian, Paul Crits-Christoph, Martin B. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Background: Although it is known that antidepressant treatment improves psychosocial functioning, whether such changes occur independent of depressive symptoms is not known. This study compared efficacy of nefazodone, psychotherapy, and their combination in improving psychosocial functioning in chronically depressed outpatients. Methods: Patients with chronic forms of major depressive disorder were randomized to 12 weeks of nefazodone, Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy (CBASP), or combined nefazodone/CBASP. Psychosocial assessments measured overall psychosocial functioning, work functioning, interpersonal functioning, and general health. Results: Relative to community norms, patients with chronic major depression evidenced substantially impaired psychosocial functioning at baseline. Combined treatment produced significantly greater psychosocial improvement than either CBASP alone or nefazodone alone on all primary measures. Combined treatment remained superior to nefazodone on primary measures of work, social, and overall functioning, and superior to CBASP on social functioning when depressive symptoms were controlled. Unlike the two groups receiving nefazodone, CBASP alone's effect on psychosocial function was relatively independent of symptom change. Psychosocial functioning improved more slowly than depressive symptoms, and moderate psychosocial impairments remained at end point. Conclusions: Combined treatment had greater effect than either monotherapy. Change in depressive symptoms did not fully explain psychosocial improvement. Moderate residual psychosocial impairment remained, suggesting the need for continuation/maintenance treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic major depression
  • Combined treatment
  • Nefazodone
  • Psychosocial functioning
  • Psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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