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When to Avoid Antidepressants in Bipolar Patients

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - Patients with bipolar depression who exhibit even minimal manic symptoms are at heightened risk for switching into mania if they receive antidepressant medication, according to a new report from the Bipolar Collaborative Network.1

This finding from the multinational sites of the former Stanley Foundation Bipolar Network emerged in a post hoc analysis of 176 patients who participated in a 10-week controlled trial of adjunctive antidepressant medication for bipolar I or II depression. The investigators sought to identify clinical correlates for the development of treatment-emergent affective switching from patient demographics and baseline symptoms.

Possible risk factors for affective switch, which have been previously suggested, include comorbid substance abuse, younger age, decreased thyroid-stimulating hormone, and rapid cycling. Although none of these factors were predictive in this study, the investigators acknowledged that their modest effect size precluded ruling these out in other populations. They characterize this study, however, as the first controlled assessment of antidepressant treatment in bipolar depression to correlate a specific phenomenological presentation at baseline with affective switching in subsequent antidepressant treatment.

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