Gary S Sachs

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (269)1619.94 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Only 3 medications are currently approved in the US for acute bipolar depression: 2 atypical antipsychotics and a combination atypical antipsychotic-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Metabolic, neurologic, and hormonal adverse events are associated with all of the atypical antipsychotics approved for this indication. However, these agents differ in their propensity to cause weight gain or other side effects that significantly impact a patient's physical health and ability to function, and the selection of medication-which may also include a mood stabilizer-as well as other forms of treatment, will affect the outcome. It is important to design treatment based on individual needs. Evidence suggests that the collaborative care model, which incorporates individualized systematic treatment, may be more appropriate for the management of bipolar depression than the acute care model. © Copyright 2015 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
  • Chris B Aiken · Richard H Weisler · Gary S Sachs
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    ABSTRACT: The Bipolarity Index is a clinician-rated scale that rates cardinal features of the disorder across five domains: signs and symptoms, age of onset, course of illness, response to treatment, and family history. We tested the Index in routine clinical practice to identify the optimal cut-off for distinguishing bipolar from non-bipolar disorders. Sequential patients in a private practice were rated with the Bipolarity Index (n=1903) at intake. Diagnoses were made with the MINI-6.0.0 International Neuropsychiatric Interview according to DSM-IV-TR criteria, except that cases of antidepressant-induced mania and hypomania were included in the bipolar group. A subset completed the self-rated Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) (n=1620) or Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale (BSDS) (n=1179). The primary analysis compared Bipolarity Index scores for bipolar vs. non-bipolar patients using receiver operator curves (ROC) to determine the optimal cut-off score. Secondary outcomes repeated this analysis with the MDQ, MDQ-7 (using only the symptomatic items of the MDQ) and BSDS. At a cut-off of ≥50, the Bipolarity Index had a high sensitivity (0.91) and specificity (0.90). Optimal cut-offs for self-rated scales were: MDQ: ≥7 (sensitivity 0.74, specificity 0.71); MDQ-7: ≥6 (sensitivity 0.77, specificity 0.77); BSDS: ≥12 (sensitivity 0.71, specificity 0.77). The study utilized one rater at a single practice site; the rater was not blinded to the results of the MINI. The Bipolarity Index can enhance the clinical assessment of mood disorders and, at a score ≥50 has good sensitivity and specificity for identifying bipolar disorders. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Affective Disorders

  • No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · European Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Background This Phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigated the efficacy and tolerability of flexibly-dosed cariprazine in patients with acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder. Methods Patients were randomized to 3 weeks of double-blind treatment with cariprazine 3-12 mg/day (n=158) or placebo (n=154). The primary efficacy parameter was change from baseline to Week 3 in Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) total score. The secondary efficacy parameter was change from baseline to Week 3 in Clinical Global Impressions-Severity (CGI-S) score. Results Mean change from baseline to Week 3 in YMRS total score was significantly greater for patients receiving cariprazine 3-12 mg/day versus placebo (P=0.0004). Significant differences between groups in YMRS total score mean change were observed by Day 4 (first postbaseline assessment) and maintained throughout double-blind treatment (all assessments, P<0.01). Cariprazine also demonstrated statistically significant superiority over placebo on YMRS response (≥50% improvement: cariprazine, 58.9%; placebo, 44.1%; P=0.0097) and remission (YMRS total score≤12: cariprazine, 51.9%; placebo, 34.9%; P=0.0025) and mean change in CGI-S (P=0.0027) score and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) (P=0.0035) total score. The most common cariprazine-related (≥10% and twice placebo) treatment emergent adverse events (TEAEs) were akathisia, extrapyramidal disorder, tremor, dyspepsia, and vomiting. Mean change from baseline in metabolic parameters were generally small and similar between groups. Limitations Lack of active comparator arm; short duration of study. Conclusion In this study, cariprazine 3-12 mg/day was effective and generally well tolerated in the treatment of manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder. © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Affective Disorders
  • Gary S Sachs · Terence A Ketter

    No preview · Article · May 2014 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

  • No preview · Article · Oct 2013 · European Neuropsychopharmacology
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    G S Sachs · A T Peters · L Sylvia · H Grunze
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    ABSTRACT: The majority of patients treated for bipolar disorder receive multiple psychotropic medications concurrently (polypharmacy), despite a lack of empirical evidence for any combination of three or more medications. Some patients benefit from the skillful management of a complex medication regimen, but iterative additions to a treatment regimen often do not lead to clinical improvement, are expensive, and can confound assessment of the underlying mood disorder. Given these potential problems of polypharmacy, this paper reviews the evidence supporting the use of multiple medications and seeks to identify patient personality traits that may put patients at a greater risk for ineffective complex chronic care. Patients with bipolar disorder (n = 89), ages 18 and older, were assessed on the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), and the NEO Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), and completed a treatment history questionnaire to report psychotropic medication use. We found that patients with lower scores on openness had significantly more current psychotropic medications than patients with higher scores on openness (3.7 ± 1.9 vs. 2.8 ± 1.8, p < 0.05). Patients with the highest lifetime medication use had significantly lower extraversion (21.8 ± 8.9 vs. 25.4 ± 7.6, p < 0.05) and lower conscientiousness (21.9 ± 8.2 vs. 27.9 ± 8.2, p < 0.01) than those reporting lower lifetime medication use. Low levels of openness, extraversion, and conscientiousness may be associated with increased psychotropic medication use. Investigating the role of individual differences, such as patient personality traits, in moderating effective polypharmacy warrants future research.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The risk-benefit profile of antidepressant medications in bipolar disorder is controversial. When conclusive evidence is lacking, expert consensus can guide treatment decisions. The International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) convened a task force to seek consensus recommendations on the use of antidepressants in bipolar disorders. Method: An expert task force iteratively developed consensus through serial consensus-based revisions using the Delphi method. Initial survey items were based on systematic review of the literature. Subsequent surveys included new or reworded items and items that needed to be rerated. This process resulted in the final ISBD Task Force clinical recommendations on antidepressant use in bipolar disorder. Results: There is striking incongruity between the wide use of and the weak evidence base for the efficacy and safety of antidepressant drugs in bipolar disorder. Few well-designed, long-term trials of prophylactic benefits have been conducted, and there is insufficient evidence for treatment benefits with antidepressants combined with mood stabilizers. A major concern is the risk for mood switch to hypomania, mania, and mixed states. Integrating the evidence and the experience of the task force members, a consensus was reached on 12 statements on the use of antidepressants in bipolar disorder. Conclusions: Because of limited data, the task force could not make broad statements endorsing antidepressant use but acknowledged that individual bipolar patients may benefit from antidepressants. Regarding safety, serotonin reuptake inhibitors and bupropion may have lower rates of manic switch than tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants and norepinephrine-serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The frequency and severity of antidepressant-associated mood elevations appear to be greater in bipolar I than bipolar II disorder. Hence, in bipolar I patients antidepressants should be prescribed only as an adjunct to mood-stabilizing medications.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · American Journal of Psychiatry
  • Gary S Sachs
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    ABSTRACT: Bipolar depression remains challenging for clinicians to assess and manage during routine office visits. When patients complete assessments before their office visits, clinicians are able to quickly review the results beforehand and spend more time engaging and assessing the patient. After completing the differential diagnosis, clinicians can focus on discussing treatment goals and expectations with patients, educate them about viable treatment options, and help them select a proven option that will best promote treatment adherence. Collaborating with patients and care partners enables patients to be active participants in the management process. Systematically using assessment tools provides clinicians with measurable data to gauge the effectiveness and tolerability for each treatment and then to guide the next treatment decisions. Patients with bipolar depression value individualized care and rely on the expertise of clinicians to help them achieve remission.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: We sought to understand the association of specific aspects of care satisfaction, such as patients' perceived relationship with their psychiatrist and access to their psychiatrist and staff, and therapeutic alliance with participants' likelihood to adhere to their medication regimens among patients with bipolar disorder. Methods: We examined data from the multicenter Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder, an effectiveness study investigating the course and treatment of bipolar disorder. We expected that participants (n = 3037) with positive perceptions of their relationship with their psychiatrist and quality of psychopharmacologic care, as assessed by the Helping Alliance Questionnaire and Care Satisfaction Questionnaire, would be associated with better medication adherence. We utilized logistic regression models controlling for already established factors associated with poor adherence. Results: Patients' perceptions of collaboration, empathy, and accessibility were significantly associated with adherence to treatment in individuals with bipolar disorder completing at least 1 assessment. Patients' perceptions of their psychiatrists' experience, as well as of their degree of discussing medication risks and benefits, were not associated with medication adherence. Conclusions: Patients' perceived therapeutic alliance and treatment environment impact their adherence to pharmacotherapy recommendations. This study may enable psychopharmacologists' practices to be structured to maximize features associated with greater medication adherence.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2013 · Journal of clinical psychopharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: High failure rates of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are well recognized but poorly understood. We report exploratory analyses from an adjunctive ziprasidone double-blind RCT in adults with bipolar I disorder (reported in part 1 of this article). Data collected by computer interviews and by site-based raters were analyzed to examine the impact of eligibility criteria on signal detection. METHOD: Clinical assessments and a remote monitoring system, including a computer-administered Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRSComp) were used to categorize subjects as eligible or ineligible on 3 key protocol-specified eligibility criteria. Data analyses compared treatment efficacy for eligible versus ineligible subgroups. All statistical analyses reported here are exploratory. Criteria were considered "impactful" if the difference between eligible and ineligible subjects on the YMRS change scores was ≥ 1 point. RESULTS: 504 subjects had baseline and ≥ 1 post-randomization computer-administered assessments but only 180 (35.7%) met all 3 eligibility criteria based on computer assessments. There were no statistically significant differences between treatment groups in change from baseline YMRS score on the basis of site-based rater or computer assessments. All criteria tested improved signal detection except the entry criteria excluding subjects with ≥ 25% improvement from screen to baseline. CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of computer assessments, nearly two-thirds of randomized subjects did not meet at least 1 protocol-specified eligibility criterion. These results suggest enrollment of ineligible subjects is likely to contribute to failure of acute efficacy studies. TRIAL REGISTRATION: identifier: NCT00312494.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2012 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy and safety of adjunctive ziprasidone in subjects with acute mania treated with lithium or divalproex, with an inadequate response to the mood stabilizer. METHOD: The study enrolled subjects aged 18-65 years who had a primary DSM-IV diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, with the most recent episode manic or mixed, with or without rapid cycling, and a Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) score ≥ 18. Subjects were randomized under double-blind conditions to receive ziprasidone, 20 to 40 mg (n = 226) or 60 to 80 mg (n = 232), or placebo (n = 222) twice a day for 3 weeks in addition to their mood stabilizer. The primary efficacy variable was change in YMRS scores from baseline to 3 weeks. Secondary efficacy measures included the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, Clinical Global Impressions-Severity of Illness and -Improvement scales, and Global Assessment of Functioning. Computer-administered YMRS was included for quality control and to evaluate study performance. The study was conducted between April 2006 and December 2008. RESULTS: Least-squares mean ± standard error changes in YMRS scores from baseline to week 3 were -10.2 ± 0.80 in the mood stabilizer + ziprasidone 60- to 80-mg group, -11.0 ± 0.80 in the mood stabilizer + ziprasidone 20- to 40-mg group, and -9.5 ± 0.80 in the mood stabilizer + placebo group. Mean treatment differences between adjunctive ziprasidone groups and placebo were not statistically significant on primary or secondary efficacy measures. Ziprasidone was well tolerated. CONCLUSIONS: Adjunctive ziprasidone treatment failed to separate from mood stabilizer (lithium or divalproex) treatment on primary and secondary end points. TRIAL REGISTRATION: identifier: NCT00312494.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-week studies comparing ziprasidone versus placebo for treatment of bipolar depression (BPD) failed to meet their primary study objectives, indicating that either ziprasidone is ineffective in the treatment of BPD or the study failed. Adult outpatients with bipolar I depression with 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression total score more than 20 at screening and baseline received either ziprasidone 40 to 80 mg/d, 120 to 160 mg/d, or placebo (study 1), or ziprasidone 40 to 160 mg/d or placebo (study 2). Primary efficacy measure in both studies was change from baseline in Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale total scores at week 6 (end of the study). Mixed-model repeated-measures methodology was used to analyze the primary efficacy measure in both studies. Secondary efficacy measures in both studies included Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression total score and Clinical Global Impression-Improvement score. Post hoc analyses were conducted for both studies to examine potential reasons for study failure. In both, ziprasidone treatment groups failed to separate statistically from placebo for change from baseline Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale score at week 6. Response rates were 49%, 53%, and 46% for placebo, ziprasidone 40 to 80 mg/d, and ziprasidone 120 to 160 mg/d, respectively (study 1), and 51% and 53% for placebo and ziprasidone 40 to 160 mg/d, respectively (study 2). Ziprasidone 40 to 160 mg/d did not show superiority over placebo at week 6 in the treatment of BPD. Post hoc analyses revealed serious inconsistencies in subject rating that may have limited the ability to detect a difference between drug and placebo response. Rating reliability warrants further investigation to improve clinical trial methodology in psychiatry.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2012 · Journal of clinical psychopharmacology
  • R. S. Dias · B. Lafer · A. A. Nierenberg · G. S. Sachs · H. Joffe

    No preview · Conference Paper · Mar 2012
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    ABSTRACT: Sleep disturbance is a common feature during mood episodes in bipolar disorder. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of such symptoms among euthymic bipolar patients, and their association with risk for mood episode recurrence. A cohort of bipolar I and II subjects participating in the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder who were euthymic for at least 8 weeks were included in this analysis. Survival analysis was used to examine the association between sleep disturbance on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and recurrence risk. A total of 73/483 bipolar I and II subjects reported at least mild sleep disturbance (MADRS sleep item ≥2) for the week prior to study entry. The presence of sleep problems was associated with a history of psychosis, number of previous suicide attempts, and anticonvulsant use. Sleep disturbance at study entry was significantly associated with risk for mood episode recurrence. Sleep disturbance is not uncommon between episodes for individuals with bipolar disorder and may be associated with a more severe course of illness. This suggests that sleep disturbance is an important prodromal symptom of bipolar disorder and should be considered a target for pharmacologic or psychosocial maintenance treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2011 · Journal of Psychopharmacology

  • No preview · Article · Sep 2011 · International Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • G. Sachs · S. Edman · D. DeBonis · D. Vanderburg

    No preview · Article · Sep 2011 · European Neuropsychopharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: This analysis was conducted to compare the effects of adjunctive ziprasidone or placebo on metabolic parameters among patients receiving maintenance treatment with lithium or valproate. We also tested whether metabolic syndrome (MetS) and other risk factors were associated with baseline characteristics and treatment response. In the stabilization phase (Phase 1), 584 bipolar I disorder (DSM-IV) patients received 2.5-4 months of open label ziprasidone (80-160 mg/d) plus lithium or valproic acid (ZIP+MS). Patients who achieved at least 8 weeks of clinical stability were subsequently randomized into Phase 2 to 6-months of double-blind treatment with ZIP+MS (n=127) vs. placebo+MS (n=113). At baseline of Phase 1, MetS was found in 111 participants (23%). Participants with MetS (vs. non-MetS participants) were more likely to be aged 40 years or older, had significantly more severe manic symptoms, higher abdominal obesity, and higher BMI. Increase in abdominal obesity was associated with lower manic symptom improvement (p<0.05, as assessed by MRS change score) during Phase 1, while symptom improvement differed across racial groups. In the Phase 2 double-blind phase, the ZIP+MS group had similar weight and metabolic profiles compared to the placebo+MS group across visits. These results corroborate existing findings on ziprasidone which exhibits a neutral weight and metabolic profile in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar patients. Our findings suggest that MetS is highly prevalent in patients with bipolar disorder, may be associated with greater manic symptom severity, and may predict treatment outcomes.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2011 · European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
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    ABSTRACT: Few studies have prospectively examined the relationships of sleep with symptoms and functioning in bipolar disorder. The present study examined concurrent and prospective associations between total sleep time (TST) and sleep variability (SV) with symptom severity and functioning in a cohort of DSM-IV bipolar patients (N = 468) participating in the National Institute of Mental Health Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD), all of whom were recovered at study entry. Concurrent associations at study entry indicated that shorter TST was associated with increased mania severity, and greater SV was associated with increased mania and depression severity. Mixed-effects regression modeling was used to examine prospective associations in the 196 patients for whom follow-up data were available. Consistent with findings at study entry, shorter TST was associated with increased mania severity, and greater SV was associated with increased mania and depression severity over 12 months. These findings highlight the importance of disrupted sleep patterns in the course of bipolar illness.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Journal of Affective Disorders
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    ABSTRACT: The Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD) was funded as part of a National Institute of Mental Health initiative to develop effectiveness information about treatments, illness course, and assessment strategies for severe mental disorders. STEP-BD studies were planned to be generalizable both to the research knowledge base for bipolar disorder and to clinical care of bipolar patients. Several novel methodologies were developed to aid in illness characterization, and were combined with existing scales on function, quality of life, illness burden, adherence, adverse effects, and temperament to yield a comprehensive data set. The methods integrated naturalistic treatment and randomized clinical trials, which a portion of STEP-BD participants participated. All investigators and other researchers in this multisite program were trained in a collaborative care model with the objective of retaining a high percentage of enrollees for several years. Articles from STEP-BD have yielded evidence on risk factors impacting outcomes, suicidality, functional status, recovery, relapse, and caretaker burden. The findings from these studies brought into question the widely practiced use of antidepressants in bipolar depression as well as substantiated the poorly responsive course of bipolar depression despite use of combination strategies. In particular, large studies on the characteristics and course of bipolar depression (the more pervasive pole of the illness), and the outcomes of treatments concluded that adjunctive psychosocial treatments but not adjunctive antidepressants yielded outcomes superior to those achieved with mood stabilizers alone. The majority of patients with bipolar depression concurrently had clinically significant manic symptoms. Anxiety, smoking, and early age of bipolar onset were each associated with increased illness burden. STEP-BD has established procedures that are relevant to future collaborative research programs aimed at the systematic study of the complex, intrinsically important elements of bipolar disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics

Publication Stats

18k Citations
1,619.94 Total Impact Points


  • 1987-2015
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • • Department of Psychiatry
      • • Department of Radiology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1990-2014
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • Mass General Hospital
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2013
    • Advance MRI
      Frisco, Texas, United States
  • 1992-2013
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2006-2008
    • University of Pittsburgh
      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
    • Boston University
      • Department of Psychology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • Brown University
      • Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
      Providence, RI, United States
  • 2004-2008
    • University of Colorado
      • Department of Psychiatry
      Denver, Colorado, United States
    • Stanford Medicine
      • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
      Stanford, California, United States
  • 2007
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 2005
    • Università di Pisa
      Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
  • 2001
    • University of Texas at Dallas
      Richardson, Texas, United States
  • 1997
    • George Washington University
      Washington, Washington, D.C., United States