The efficacy of bupropion in winter depression: Results of an open trial
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) refers to regularly recurring episodes of affective illness bearing a fixed relationship to season. Wintertime depression is its most widely recognized form. This study was undertaken to assess the efficacy of bupropion as a treatment for this disorder. Fifteen consecutively presenting patients were treated with bupropion (200 to 400 mg/day). All met DSM-III-R criteria for major depression with a seasonal pattern. All were moderately to severely depressed. A modified version of the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (mHAM-D) including ratings of hypersomnia, increased appetite and carbohydrate craving, and weight gain was used to quantify the severity of illness. Up to 5 weeks of treatment was allowed before the subjects were categorized as nonresponders, partial responders, or responders. The mean +/- SD mHAM-D scores before and after treatment were 25.5 +/- 6.4 and 4.1 +/- 3.1, respectively. Ten (66.7%) of the subjects had a complete response to treatment (mHAM-D score less than or equal to 5). The other 5 (33.3%) had a partial response (mHAM-D score = 6-10). Five of the subjects had chronic pain and 3 had panic attacks restricted to episodes of depression. These problems resolved simultaneously with the symptoms of depression. The results of this open trial suggest that bupropion is an effective treatment for winter depression. However, controlled studies are required to confidently determine whether this is the case.