Background: Many patients with affective illness show partial or otherwise unsatisfactory responses to standard treatments, encouraging trials of combinations of pharmacologically dissimilar antidepressants.
Method: Records of consecutive outpatients with affective disorders only partially responsive to treatment with a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) or bupropion, alone, were reviewed for changes in specific symptoms and risks of adverse events when an SRI and bupropion were combined.
Results: Greater symptomatic improvement was found in 19 (70%) of 27 subjects during a mean +/- SD of 11 +/- 14 months of combined daily use of bupropion (243 +/- 99 mg) with an SRI (31 +/- 16 mg fluoxetine-equivalents) than with either agent alone. Adverse effect risks were similar to those associated with each monotherapy, with a > 10% incidence of sexual dysfunction (N = 11, 41%), insomnia (N = 6, 22%), anergy (N = 4, 15%), and tremor (N = 3, 11%) during combined therapy; there were no seizures.
Conclusion: With conservative dosing and close monitoring, combinations of SRIs with bupropion in this uncontrolled clinical series appeared to be safe and often more effective than monotherapy.