The use of atypical antipsychotics (AAPs) for the treatment of unipolar and bipolar depression has been more and more frequently evaluated, and aripiprazole showed positive effects in the treatment of unipolar depression. However, no placebo-controlled studies of adjunctive aripiprazole for the treatment of bipolar depression have been performed yet.
In this prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial, 23 inpatients with bipolar depression according to DSM-IV criteria were included. Before randomization, patients had to be on a constant mood stabilizer treatment with lithium or valproate for at least 1 week. After inclusion, all patients were openly treated with additional citalopram and with additional aripiprazole or placebo for 6 weeks. The primary outcome parameter was the reduction in depressive symptoms according to the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) within 6 weeks.
After 6 weeks of treatment, the HDRS score decreased in both groups. There was no significant difference between both the groups at any point of time with respect to the HDRS.
Derived from this small pilot study, adjunctive aripiprazole does not seem to be a promising strategy for the acute treatment of bipolar depression. However, this lack of additional benefit seems to stem from the already good effectiveness of the control group, namely the treatment with citalopram. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.