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Antidepressants Equal to Placebo in Bipolar Depression

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - MedPage Today Action Points

o Explain to interested patients that there is controversy over the safety and efficacy of antidepressants for depressed patients with bipolar disorder.

o Explain that this study suggests that antidepressants are safe -- in that they do not cause incidents of mania -- but are not particularly effective in relieving depression in these patients.

o Point out however that the possibility of selection bias in the study led the authors to suggest that the results are likely to be applicable only to those patients with bipolar depression who are considered appropriate candidates for treatment with standard antidepressants and had not had a recent manic episode.

BOSTON, March 29 -- If a depressed patient with bipolar disorder is taking a mood stabilizer such as lithium, adding an antidepressant has no more effect than a placebo, according to researchers here.

In a study of 366 depressed bipolar patients, durable recoveries were nearly identical, whether patients were randomized to an antidepressant or placebo, found Gary Sachs, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital here, and colleagues.

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