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J Affect Disord. 2006 Oct;95(1-3):69-78. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Carbamazepine and valproate for the treatment of bipolar disorder: a review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0559, USA.


There are an increasing number of pharmacologic therapies for bipolar disorder. Two of these agents, the anticonvulsants carbamazepine (CBZ) and valproate (VPA), were first developed over 30 years ago for the treatment of epilepsy, and subsequent studies demonstrated that they are also effective in the treatment of acute mania and suggest efficacy as maintenance therapy in bipolar disorder. Because VPA and CBZ have been in use for many years, the psychiatric community is familiar with the adverse event profiles of these agents. A review of the clinical data evaluating VPA and CBZ monotherapy for the treatment of acute mania suggests that VPA and CBZ are similarly effective in acute mania. However, when their respective adverse event profiles are considered, VPA may be more tolerable than CBZ for short-term use, while CBZ may be better suited for long-term therapy. Controlled and direct comparative studies, both short and long term, are needed to further clarify the differences between VPA and CBZ.

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