Background: The purpose of this study was to examine whether the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) with the norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) bupropion results in a greater resolution of sleepiness and fatigue than with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Methods: Six double-blind, randomized clinical trials comparing bupropion (n = 662) with an SSRI (n = 655) for the treatment of MDD were pooled. Hypersomnia scores were defined as the sum of scores of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) items #22, 23, and 24. Fatigue scores were defined as the score of HDRS item #13.
Results: There was a greater improvement in hypersomnia scores among bupropion-treated than SSRI-treated (p < .0001) or placebo-treated patients (p = .0008). There was also a greater improvement in fatigue scores among bupropion-treated (p < .0001) and SSRI-treated (p = .0005) than placebo-treated patients as well as a greater improvement in fatigue scores among bupropion-treated than SSRI-treated patients (p = .0078). Fewer bupropion-remitters than SSRI-remitters experienced residual hypersomnia (20.5% vs. 32.1%; p = .0014) or residual fatigue (19.5% vs. 30.2%; p = .0020).
Conclusion: Treatment of MDD with the NDRI bupropion resulted in a greater resolution of sleepiness and fatigue than SSRIs treatment. Although preliminary, these results warrant prospectively designed studies examining potential differences between bupropion and the SSRIs on these specific depressive symptoms.