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Selected Reviews

Selected review N° 101

Noradrenaline plays a critical role in the switch to a manic episode and treatment of a depressive episode.

M. Kurita
Koutokukai Wakamiya Hospital, Yoshihara, Yamagata; Tohoku University, Sendai; Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan.

Although antidepressants may increase the risk of switching to mania in bipolar disorder (BD), clinicians have been using antidepressants to treat patients with bipolar depression. Appropriate treatments for bipolar depression remain controversial. In BD, antidepressants comprise a double-edged sword in terms of their efficacy in treating depression and the increased risk of switching. This review presents an important table outlining the benefit in terms of depression improvement and the risk of switching in the clinical setting. It also proposes strategies based on the characteristics of antidepressants such as their pharmacology, specifically the equilibrium dissociation constant (KD) of the noradrenaline transporter. This table will be useful for clinicians while considering benefit and risk. Antidepressants augmenting noradrenaline may be effective in bipolar depression. However, it is easily presumed that such antidepressants may also have a risk of switching to mania. Therefore, antidepressants augmenting noradrenaline will be the recommended treatment in combination with an antimanic agent, or they may be used for short-term treatment and early discontinuation. The corresponding medical treatment guidelines probably need to be reevaluated and updated based on biological backgrounds. From previous studies, we understand that the stability of noradrenaline levels is important for BD amelioration, based on the pathophysiology of the disorder. It is hoped that researchers will reevaluate BD by conducting studies involving noradrenaline.

Kurita M. Noradrenaline plays a critical role in the switch to a manic episode and treatment of a depressive episode. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2016 Sep 20;12:2373-2380.
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