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Wellbutrin XL Approved for Seasonal Depression

For people with history of the winter blues

MONDAY, June 12, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- People whose mood seems to drop with the hours of daylight may find help with Monday's U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the first drug to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Wellbutrin XL (bupropion HCL extended release) is already sanctioned to treat major depressive disorder.

SAD is characterized by recurring bouts of major depression that usually coincide with the shorter daylight hours of autumn and winter. Though a person with SAD may have depressive episodes at other times, the number of seasonal episodes significantly outnumber the non-seasonal ones, the FDA said.

A major depressive episode includes five or more of these core symptoms for at least two consecutive weeks:

  1. Depressed mood.
  2. Loss of interest.
  3. Weight loss.
  4. Insomnia.
  5. Agitation.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  7. Fatigue.
  8. Impaired concentration.
  9. Suicidal thinking or behavior.

To be characterized as SAD, one of the five symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest, the FDA said.

In clinical testing, 84 percent of people who took Wellbutrin between September and March were depression free, versus 72 percent among those who took a non-medicinal placebo, the agency said.

Wellbutrin XL, made by GlaxoSmithKline, includes a "black box" warning of an added risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior among children who use antidepressants.

More information

To learn more about SAD, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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