Antipsychotic Drug may Help Depression

Bipolar disorder depression is improved by ziprasidone for patients in a mixed mood state

(RxWiki News) Mixed mood states are those that have symptoms of depression and mania. They can occur in bipolar disorder and major depression, but treating the mixed state has been difficult.

A recent study found that patients who were in a mixed state showed a decrease in their depression symptoms when the antipsychotic Geodon (ziprasidone) was added to their current medications.

"Seek help if you have any symptoms of depression or mania"

Antipsychotic medications are most commonly prescribed for psychosis, including schizophrenia. Some antipsychotics have been used to control manic symptoms in bipolar disorder, but their use in mixed states is only recently being explored.

A study conducted at multiple sites, including Tufts Medical Center, Northwestern University, and Duke University, enrolled 73 patients who either had bipolar type II or major depression and who were currently experiencing a mixed mood state.  Patients were randomly assigned to receive ziprasidone or placebo for six weeks. The depression symptoms of the patients were measured each week.

Ashwin Patkar, MD, of Duke University, and his colleagues, found that patients experiencing a mixed state showed improvement in their depression symptoms when they added ziprasidone.

The improvement in mood was slightly stronger for patients with bipolar type II than those with major depression, but both groups showed marked improvement compared to placebo.

Antipsychotic medications are often avoided because they can have unpleasant side effects, such as weight gain, drowsiness, and headache. Ziprasidone, in this study, was well-tolerated by the patients. They reported only mild side-effects. 

This study was the first controlled trial showing that an antipsychotic medication can be used specifically to target mixed states.

It was published in the April issue of PLoS One. Authors in this study report financial affiliations with Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Astra-Zeneca, Glaxo-Smith Kline, Lundbeck, and Pfizer, among others.

Review Date: 
May 4, 2012