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Am J Psychiatry. 1992 Jan;149(1):108-11.

A double-blind comparison of valproate and lithium in the treatment of acute mania.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Harris County Psychiatric Center, University of Texas Medical School, Houston 77225.



This study was carried out to compare the efficacy of lithium carbonate with that of valproate in acute mania and to determine whether pretreatment clinical characteristics, such as the presence of a mixed affective state, might predict a differential response to the two drugs.


Twenty-seven patients meeting DSM-III-R criteria for acute manic episodes underwent a 3-week, randomized, double-blind, parallel-groups trial of treatment with lithium carbonate or valproate. Symptom severity was measured by using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia, change version (SADS-C), the Global Assessment Scale (GAS), and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). Drug effects were compared by using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA).


At the end of the study, nine of 14 patients treated with valproate and 12 of 13 patients treated with lithium had responded favorably, as measured by changes in the SADS-C mania, BPRS, and GAS scores. Elevated pretreatment SADS-C depression scores were associated with good response to valproate. ANOVA revealed a significant interaction between drug and mixed affective state with respect to treatment response.


Lithium and valproate were both effective in improving manic symptoms, and lithium was slightly more efficacious overall. Unlike the case with lithium, favorable response to valproate was associated with high pretreatment depression scores. Therefore, treatment with valproate alone may be particularly effective in manic patients with mixed affective states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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