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J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1991 Oct;11(5):313-8.

Effects of carbamazepine on serum antidepressant concentrations in psychiatric patients.

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  • 1Harjam√§ki Hospital, Siilinj√§rvi, Finland.


The combination of carbamazepine and an antidepressant (doxepin, amitriptyline, mianserin) was given to 22 psychiatric inpatients with 29 measurements of their serum antidepressant concentrations. For comparison, sex-, age-, and dose-matched inpatients, treated with the antidepressant but not with carbamazepine, were selected as controls (N = 29). All the patients were treated with their routine daily dose for at least 7 days before the gas-chromatographic measurement of serum predose concentrations of the antidepressants. In patients with carbamazepine, serum doxepin and doxepin + nordoxepin concentrations (N = 17) were decreased significantly (p less than 0.05), on average to 46% and 45%, respectively, as compared to that in subjects without carbamazepine. Also in carbamazepine + amitriptyline patients, serum nortriptyline and amitriptyline + nortriptyline concentrations (N = 8) were significantly lower than in those not receiving carbamazepine (p less than 0.05). The mean serum antidepressant levels were decreased to 42% and 40%, respectively. The serum mianserin concentration of carbamazepine patients (N = 4) was reduced to 30% of that in patients not treated with carbamazepine (p less than 0.01). The percentage fractions of demethylated metabolites (nordoxepin, nortriptyline) from the total antidepressant levels were not influenced by carbamazepine. In patients treated with carbamazepine, serum total antidepressant concentrations remained more often below the suggested therapeutic ranges than in those patients without carbamazepine. The results suggest that serum antidepressant concentrations are reduced by concurrent carbamazepine therapy, and that the concentrations should be carefully monitored when carbamazepine is added to the antidepressant regimen.

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