Thirty Years of Clinical Experience with Carbamazepine in the Treatment of Bipolar Illness

Bipolar Collaborative Network, Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA.
CNS Drugs (Impact Factor: 5.11). 02/2007; 21(1):47-71. DOI: 10.2165/00023210-200721010-00005
Source: PubMed


Carbamazepine began to be studied in a systematic fashion in the 1970s and became more widely used in the treatment of bipolar disorder in the 1980s. Interest in carbamazepine has been renewed by (i) the recent US FDA approval of a long-acting preparation for the treatment of acute mania; (ii) studies suggesting some efficacy in bipolar depression; and (iii) evidence of prophylactic efficacy in some difficult-to-treat subtypes of bipolar illness. A series of double-blind controlled studies of the drug were conducted at the US National Institute of Mental Health from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. This review summarises our experience in the context of the current literature on the clinical efficacy, adverse effects and pharmacokinetic interactions of carbamazepine. Carbamazepine has an important and still evolving place in the treatment of acute mania and long-term prophylaxis. It may be useful in individuals with symptoms that are not responsive to other treatments and in some subtypes of bipolar disorder that are not typically responsive to a more traditional agent such as lithium. These subtypes might include those patients with bipolar II disorder, dysphoric mania, substance abuse co-morbidity, mood incongruent delusions, and a negative family history of bipolar illness in first-degree relatives. In addition, carbamazepine may be useful in patients who do not adequately tolerate other interventions as a result of adverse effects, such as weight gain, tremor, diabetes insipidus or polycystic ovarian syndrome. We review our clinical and research experience with carbamazepine alone and in combination with lithium, valproic acid and other agents in complex combination treatment of bipolar illness. More precise clinical and biological predictors and correlates of individual clinical responsiveness to carbamazepine and other mood stabilisers are eagerly awaited.

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    • "It may be useful in patients not responding to other agents or not tolerating their side-effects. It is also useful in certain subtypes of bipolar disorder such as mixed affective states and those with comorbid substance misuse (Post et al. 2007). Carbamazepine is a hepatic enzyme inducer and its interactions with other medications may be difficult to predict. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Jan 2012
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    • "une étude en aveugle, randomisée, incluant 27 patients déprimés, montre une amélioration significative des symptômes dépressifs après un traitement par carbamazepine pendant trois mois [16]. Les données disponibles suggèrent cependant que la carbamazepine a des propriétés antidépressives moindres que ses effets antimaniaques [42] et soulignent la nécessité d'autres études contrôlées afin de confirmer son efficacité dans la dépression bipolaire. "
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    ABSTRACT: For decades, lithium and anticonvulsants have been widely used in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Their efficacy in the treatment of mania is recognized. These drugs have been initially evaluated in old and methodologically heterogeneous studies. Their efficacy in bipolar depression has not always been confirmed in more recent and methodologically more reliable studies. Thus, lithium's efficacy as monotherapy was challenged by the study of Young (2008) that showed a lack of efficacy compared with placebo in the treatment of bipolar depression. In two recent meta-analyses, valproate has shown a modest efficacy in the treatment of bipolar depression. As for lithium, valproate appeared to have a larger antimanic effect for acute phase and prophylaxis of bipolar disorder. In contrast, lamotrigine is more effective on the depressive pole of bipolar disorder with better evidence for the prevention of depressive recurrences. The guidelines include these recent studies and recommend lamotrigine as a first-line treatment of bipolar depression and for maintenance treatment. Because of more discordant data concerning lithium and valproate, these two drugs are placed either as first or as second line treatment of bipolar depression. The different safety/efficacy ratios of mood stabilizers underlie the complementarity and the importance of combination between them, or with some second-generation antipsychotics, in the treatment of patients with bipolar disorder.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · L Encéphale
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    • "Off-label studied uses in psychiatry. Bipolar disorder, depressed phase, and bipolar prophylaxis: positive placebo-controlled and activecomparator trials [77]. Posttraumatic stress disorder: positive case reports and small open-label case series [55]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The clinical interface between psychiatry and neurology is epilepsy; the pharmacological expression of this interface is antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), as they are used to treat both epilepsy and psychiatric disorders, especially bipolar disorders. The prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity and the risk of suicidal behavior/ideation/suicide are markedly increased in patients with epilepsy (PWE). Though AEDs receive initial indications for the treatment of epilepsy, currently the majority of AEDs are used to treat pain and psychiatric disorders. Thus in selecting the appropriate AEDs for treatment of PWE, consideration should be given to which AEDs best treat the epileptic disorder and the psychiatric comorbidity. This review is an overview of 21 AEDs in which negative psychotropic properties, approved indications in psychiatry, off-label studied uses in psychiatry, and principal uses in psychiatry are presented with literature review. A total of 40 psychiatric uses have been identified. Of the 21 AEDs reviewed, only 5 have U.S. Food and Drug Administration and/or European Medicines Agency psychiatric approval for limited uses; the majority of AEDs are used off-label. Many of these off-label uses are based on case reports, open-label studies, and poorly controlled or small-sample-size studies. In some instances, off-label use persists in the face of negative pivotal trials. Further placebo-controlled (augmentation and monotherapy) parallel-arm research with active comparators is required in the complex field of AED treatment of psychiatric disorders to minimize the treatment gap not only for PWE with psychiatric disorders, but also for psychiatric patients who would benefit from properly studied AEDs while minimizing adverse effects.
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