More than half of older adults with clinical depression don’t get better when treated with an antidepressant. But results from a multicenter clinical trial that included Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that adding a second drug — an antipsychotic medication — to the treatment regimen helps many of those patients.

Previous research in younger patients with depression showed that adding a low dose of the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole (brand name Abilify) helped relieve symptoms of depression when an antidepressant alone wasn’t effective. But the new study is the first to show that the same strategy also works in older adults. The two-drug combination relieved depression in a significant number of patients and also reduced the likelihood that they would have suicidal thoughts.

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