Friday, June 13, 2008

Antidepressants Alone: Not For Bipolar Depression

Psychiatrists have cautioned against the use of antidepressants alone in people with bipolar disorders, saying they could worsen a patient's condition by causing a destabilisation in mood.

Dr Ajeet Singh and Professor Michael Berk, consultant psychiatrists from the University of Melbourne, state in the current edition of Australian Prescriber that the goal of treatment in bipolar disorder is to stabilise mood, and antidepressants may defeat this purpose if they are not taken with other drugs.

"Patients may need an antidepressant, but this must be taken with a mood-stabilising drug. Antidepressants place patients at risk of switching to elevated phases of the disorder and rapid cycling patterns," they say in the article.

Patients should not simply be left on antidepressants long term without review, say the authors, as there is no good evidence of efficacy in the maintenance phase. If symptoms of elevated mood emerge, the patient should have their dose of the antidepressant reduced or stopped.


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