To investigate the short-term effectiveness and the short-term and long-term safety of acute antidepressant (AD) treatment of bipolar depression in a naturalistic setting.
Patients with bipolar (n = 86) or unipolar (n = 111) depression were consecutively recruited and treated with AD (combined with mood stabilizer [MS] and/or second-generation antipsychotics in bipolar depression). Exclusion criteria were mixed depression, high mood instability, previous predominantly mixed depression (both bipolar and unipolar depression), rapid cycling course and previous switch AD-emerging (bipolar depression).
After 12 weeks of treatment, no difference was found in remission, response and improvement rates between bipolar and unipolar depression. Concerning short-term safety, switching and suicidality did not differ significantly between the two groups, and no suicide attempt was observed. Concerning long-term safety, patients with bipolar depression had a significant reduction of depressive and total recurrences during the year of follow-up, compared to the year before entering the study, without significant changes in (hypo)mania and mixed depression recurrences, and suicide rates.
Acute AD treatment of bipolar depression is effective in the short-term and safe in the short- and long-term, when administered in combination with MSs and/or second-generation antipsychotics, with a low risk of switch, mixed depression and cycle acceleration.

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