Those with bipolar disease may not befit from the use of antidepressants. According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the use of antidepressants did not offer any additional benefit during periods of depression for those suffering with bipolar disease.
Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide, that affects nearly 4% of people at some time in their life. The annual costs of bipolar disease are greater than those related to diabetes or major depressive illness. While the hallmark of this condition is the presence of episodes of mania- frequently characterized by feelings of euphoria, excessive risk-taking and pressured speech, it is the episodes of depression that is the leading cause of impairment and death in these patients.
While the benefits of mood stabilizers such as lithium are well documented, research on how to control episodes of depression has been inconclusive. Some doctors worry that placing manic-depressive patients on antidepressants may increase the chance for a manic episode.
The researchers performed the present study to evaluate if patients with bipolar disease who had a depressive episode needed to take antidepressants in addition to their mood stabilization medicines. They were most interested in whether or not the patients had normal mood for 8 weeks after initial recovery.
The results showed that those who received antidepressants fared no better than those who received mood stabilizers alone, as 23% of those who receiving a mood stabilizer plus adjunctive antidepressant therapy had a durable recovery, as compared to 27% receiving a mood stabilizer plus a matching placebo. The use of antidepressants did not increase the risk for a manic episode.
Manic depression may present with either a manic or depressive episodes. If you have symptoms of either mania or depression, you should seek medical attention on an urgent basis.