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Adjunct Antidepressants Ineffective for Bipolar Disorder

No improvement in mood stabilizer effectiveness, no effect on risk of treatment-emergent affective switch

WEDNESDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Adjunct antidepressant therapy does not improve the effectiveness of mood stabilizers in treating bipolar disorder, nor does it affect the risk of treatment-emergent affective switch, according to the results of a study released online March 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Gary S. Sachs, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues treated 366 subjects with bipolar depression with a mood stabilizer plus a placebo, or with a mood stabilizer plus antidepressant therapy for 26 weeks.

The researchers found that similar percentages of subjects in the placebo group (27.3 percent) and the antidepressant group (23.5 percent) had a durable recovery, which was defined as eight consecutive weeks of euthymia. The two groups were also similar in terms of rates of treatment-emergent affective switch, the report indicates.

"The use of adjunctive, standard antidepressant medication, as compared with the use of mood stabilizers, was not associated with increased efficacy or with increased risk of treatment-emergent affective switch," Sachs and colleagues conclude.

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