DL-phenylalanine versus imipramine:
a double-blind controlled study

Beckmann H, Athen D, Olteanu M, Zimmer R
Arch Psychiatr Nervenkr 1979 Jul 4; 227(1):49-58


In a double-blind study, DL-phenylalanine (150--200 mg/24 h) or imipramine (150--200 mg/24 h) was administered to 40 depressed patients (20 patients in each group) for 30 days. Diagnoses were established according to the International Classification of Disease (ICD). The AMP system, the Hamilton Depression Scale and the Bf-S self rating questionnaire (von Zerssen et al., 1974) were used to document psychopathological, neurologic, and somatic changes. Twenty-seven patients (14 on imipramine, 13 on phenylalanine) completed the 30-day trial. No statistical difference could be found between these two drug treatment groups (Student's t-test) using the Hamilton Depression Scale and the Bf-S self rating questionnaire. Ratings for anxiety were significantly lower in the imipramine group on days 10 and 20, but not on day 30; in addition, sleep disturbances were more influenced by imipramine on days 1, 5, and 10, but not on days 20 and 30. Separate analysis of psychopathological syndromes as somatic depressive syndrome and retarded depressive syndrome did not show a group difference (0.05 level of significance using a two-way analysis of variance). It is concluded that DL-phenylalanine might have substantial antidepressant properties. However, certain methodological considerations still warrant a careful interpretation.

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