Adjunctive use of methylphenidate, a central stimulant, has been considered as a potential therapeutic choice for patients with refractory unipolar, geriatric, or bipolar depression, and depression secondary to medical illness. We present a case of bipolar depression in which the patient responded significantly to augmentation with methylphenidate, without any side effects, after failure of adjunctive repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy. Mr U, a 56-year-old man with bipolar I disorder, had melancholic symptoms during his sixth episode of bipolar depression. After failure of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and electroconvulsive therapy, he was treated with fluoxetine 80 mg/day, duloxetine 360 mg/day, mirtazapine 60 mg/day, and sodium valproate 1,000 mg/day, with no improvement. We added methylphenidate at a dose of 10 mg/day for one week, which resulted in mild clinical improvement, and then methylphenidate extended-release 20 mg/day for one week, with significant clinical improvement. He tolerated his medications well. His clinical recovery was stable over one year. The patient's antidepressants and methylphenidate were gradually tapered and finally discontinued after one year with no withdrawal syndrome. To date, he remains well on sodium valproate as monotherapy and is being followed up at our bipolar department. This case suggests that methylphenidate augmentation might be a therapeutic option when treating highly treatment-resistant patients with bipolar depression, even if they had not responded to adjunctive neuromodulation. In these clinical situations, physicians might be interested in prescribing methylphenidate because of its efficacy and safety.
Keywords: bipolar disorder; depression; methylphenidate; neuromodulation-refractory; treatment-refractory.