Memantine for late-life depression and apathy after a disabling medical event: a 12-week, double-blind placebo-controlled pilot study

International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 04/19/2012

Memantine was not associated with superior affective or functional outcome compared with placebo in medically rehabilitating older adults with depressive and apathy symptoms.


  • The authors recruited subjects aged 60 years and older who had recently suffered a disabling medical event and were admitted to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation.
  • Participants with significant depressive symptoms, defined as a Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score of 10 or greater, and/or significant apathy symptoms, defined as an Apathy Evaluation Scale score of 40 or greater, were randomized to memantine (10 mg/d for 1 week, then 10 mg twice daily) or placebo, for 12 weeks.
  • The authors also recruited participants without depressive or apathy symptoms for naturalistic follow-up as a non-depressed comparison group.
  • Depressive and apathy symptoms were main outcomes; functional recovery, and self-report rating of helplessness, and onset of new depressive disorders were secondary outcomes.


  • Thirty-five older adults with significant depressive and/or apathy symptoms were randomized, of whom 27 (77.1%) completed the 12 week randomized controlled trial.
  • Both groups showed reduction in depressive symptoms (but no significant reduction in apathy symptoms) and improved function.
  • However, there were no group differences between the memantine-randomized and placebo randomized participants on any outcome.

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