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J Clin Psychiatry. 1992 Dec;53(12):443-6.

Bupropion in the treatment of bipolar disorders: the same old story?

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  • 1University of California Los Angeles Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital.



The treatment of bipolar disorders with mood stabilizing agents is complicated by breakthrough episodes of depression. Currently there are no consistently safe and effective medications for these episodes. The authors address the use of bupropion for this purpose.


Bupropion was added to the treatment regimens of 3 male and 8 female patients who had bipolar disorders as diagnosed by DSM-III-R criteria and were depressed and nonresponsive to current treatment. Ten of the 11 had previously cycled into manic episodes when treated with either a tricyclic antidepressant, fluoxetine, or phenelzine.


Seven of the 11 patients had moderate-to-marked improvement after 6 weeks of treatment. A moderate-to-marked improvement continued in 4 of the 11 patients after a mean of 12 months of treatment (range, 0-20 months), justifying the continuation of bupropion. Baseline Global Assessment of Functioning scores, history of previous response to other antidepressants, treatment refractoriness, comorbid diagnoses, bipolar subtype, family history, cycle length, and demographics did not discriminate between bupropion responders and nonresponders. However, 6 of the 11 patients experienced manic or hypomanic episodes that necessitated discontinuation of bupropion. Five of the 6 patients who had manic episodes had been stabilized on lithium and carbamazepine or valproate prior to the addition of bupropion.


These findings, based on consecutive cases, suggest that bupropion may pose the same risks as other antidepressants in precipitating manic episodes in depressed bipolar patients. The authors conclude that caution should be exercised when using bupropion in the treatment of bipolar disorders.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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