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Oxcarbazepine treatment of refractory bipolar disorder: a retrospective chart review


Corresponding author: Dr S Nassir Ghaemi, Cambridge Hospital, 1493 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Fax: +617-665-1623; e-mail:


Objective: To determine if oxcarbazepine is effective as treatment for refractory bipolar illness in a naturalistic setting.

Methods: All charts of out-patients treated with oxcarbazepine (n=13) were reviewed and clinical response assessed retrospectively using the Clinical Global Impression of Improvement (CGI-I) rating scale. All patients had failed treatment with at least one previous mood stabilizer.

Results: Mild improvement was seen in 46% (n=6) and moderate improvement in 16% (n=2). Fifty-four percent (n=7) of the total sample discontinued treatment because of adverse effects.

Conclusion: Oxcarbazepine may possess mild to moderate mood-stabilizing properties in this refractory, mostly depressed, bipolar sample. This naturalistic study is limited by its uncontrolled nature.