Amit BH, Weizman A.
Depress Res Treat. 2012;2012:684725. Epub 2012 Jan 27.
While studies in the past have focused more on treatment of the manic phase of bipolar disorder (BD), recent findings demonstrate the depressive phase to be at least as debilitating. However, in contrast to unipolar depression, depression in bipolar patients exhibits a varying response to antidepressants, raising questions regarding their efficacy and tolerability. Methods. We conducted a MEDLINE and Cochrane Collaboration Library search for papers published between 2005 and 2011 on the subject of antidepressant treatment of bipolar depression. Sixty-eight articles were included in the present review. Results. While a few studies did advocate the use of antidepressants, most well-controlled studies failed to show a robust effect of antidepressants in bipolar depression, regardless of antidepressant class or bipolar subtype. There was no significant increase in the rate of manic/hypomanic switch, especially with concurrent use of mood stabilizers. Prescribing guidelines published in recent years rely more on atypical antipsychotics, especially quetiapine, as a first-line therapy. Conclusions. Antidepressants probably have no substantial role in acute bipolar depression. However, in light of conflicting results between studies, more well-designed trials are warranted.