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Study Finds Antidepressants Don’t Work for Bipolar Disorder

Study Finds Antidepressants Don't Work for Bipolar DisorderSome studies and treatment guidelines suggest that antidepressant treatment for bipolar disorder can trigger or increase mania, while others recommend short-term antidepressant treatment and then early discontinuation.

New Chinese research on the topic included double-blind randomized controlled trials with large sample sizes, supplemented with studies involving homogeneous patients.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that is characterized by mood swings — significant changes in mood, energy and activity levels that range from deep depression and low levels of energy and motivation, to very high levels of energy and irritability, called mania or hypomania. It can be difficult to diagnose and is sometimes misdiagnosed as clinical depression, because a person may present with only those symptoms when talking to their doctor or therapist.

Investigators set strict inclusion criteria by analyzing only double-blind randomized controlled studies and studies where antipsychotic medications were not used in treatment. The researchers believe that by focusing on such high-quality evidence and removing studies where other medications were used (which may confound the results), it results in a more objective analysis.

The results from this study do not support the contention that antidepressants are effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Antidepressants were not superior to placebo and other medications in the short term, and long-term use of antidepressants did not achieve higher response and remission rates of bipolar disorder.

The findings are published in the journal Neural Regeneration Research.

Experts belief the findings will help guide future clinical studies and provide evidence for preparing treatment strategy for bipolar disorder.

Source: Neural Regeneration Research

Study Finds Antidepressants Don’t Work for Bipolar Disorder

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Study Finds Antidepressants Don’t Work for Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 25, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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