Some patients experiencing depressive episodes can switch to mania or become mania during treatment with antidepressants. Avoiding a switch is an important part of any therapeutic plan, whether a patient suffers from unipolar or bipolar depression. One method of avoiding switching is use of a mood stabilizer, such as lithium carbonate.
The research team performed a narrative review by searching Chinese electronic databases: the Chinese Biomedical Database (CBM), the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), WANFANG, and the Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index (VIP). The search used the keywords depression-bipolar depression and depressive episode-and lithium carbonate. Results such as comments, letters, reviews, and case reports were excluded.
The study took place at Jinhua Second Hospital, China.
A random effect model was used to account for the data, using Revman 5.2. The switch rate for the intervention groups was 8.28% or 29 out of 351 participants and of the control groups was 25.29% or 87 out of 344 participants (OR = 0.25, 95% CI: 0.16 to 0.39). Lithium carbonate reduced the switch rate by 67.25% [(25.29%-8.28%) /25.29%]. In the bipolar depression group, lithium carbonate reduced the switch rate by 68.11% [(25.84%-8.24%) /25.84%]. In the depression and unipolar depression groups, lithium carbonate reduced the switch rate by 67.07% [(25.29%-8.26%) /25.29%]. In the group of patients treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), lithium reduced the switch rate by 60.3% [(29.85%-11.85%) /29.85%]. In group of patients treated by tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), lithium carbonate reduced the switch rate by 73.14% [(22.28%-6.01%) /22.28%].
As typical mood stabilizer, lithium carbonate can reduce the antidepressant-induced switch rates in patients with depressive episodes regardless of the type of antidepressant and the type of depressive episode. Further research should compare the effectiveness of lithium carbonate to that of other mood stabilizers in preventing switching associated with antidepressants.