Objective: We sought to review research on use of antidepressants for long-term treatment of bipolar depression.
Method: We conducted a computerized literature search of the MEDLINE, HealthStar, Current Contents, PsychInfo, and National Library of Medicine databases to identify studies involving antidepressant, anticonvulsant, or lithium use in bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness published from 1966 through 2000.
Results: Only 7 blinded, controlled trials of long-term antidepressant treatment in bipolar disorders were found. The available information is not adequate to support the safety or effectiveness of long-term antidepressant treatment for bipolar depression, with or without mood-stabilizing cotherapy.
Conclusion: Antidepressant treatment of bipolar depression is extraordinarily understudied. Controlled trials comparing specific antidepressants, particularly to compare mood-stabilizing agents given alone and combined with an antidepressant, are needed.