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J Clin Psychiatry. 1994 Sep;55(9):391-3.

A double-blind trial of bupropion versus desipramine for bipolar depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.



Although treatment of bipolar depression is a frequent clinical problem, double-blind studies of the treatment of bipolar depression are scarce. Some case series and uncontrolled data suggest antidepressants may differ in their propensity to induce mania or their efficacy for bipolar depression.


The authors conducted a prospective double-blind trial to assess efficacy and rate of treatment-emergent mood elevation in depressed bipolar patients when bupropion or desipramine was added to an ongoing therapeutic regimen of lithium or an anticonvulsant. Results were assessed after 8 weeks of acute treatment and during maintenance treatment up to 1 year.


No difference was found for acute efficacy between the two drugs. Mania/hypomania was observed in 5 of 10 desipramine-treated patients, but only 1 of 9 bupropion-treated patients. The occurrence of hypomania or mania was correlated with treatment group (Kendall's tau correlation = 0.42; Z = -2.5, p < .012).


These pilot findings suggest that bupropion is less likely to induce mood elevation than desipramine. For treatment of bipolar depression, bupropion and desipramine appear to have similar antidepressant efficacy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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