Tranylcypromine vs. lamotrigine in the treatment of refractory bipolar depression: A failed but clinically useful study

W. A. Nolen, R. W. Kupka, G. Hellemann, M. A. Frye, L. L. Altshuler, G. S. Leverich, T. Suppes, P. E. Keck, S. McElroy, H. Grunze, J. Mintz, R. M. Post

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the efficacy and tolerability of tranylcypromine vs. lamotrigine in bipolar depression not responding to conventional antidepressants. Method: Bipolar depressed patients received open randomized treatment with tranylcypromine or lamotrigine as add-on to a mood stabilizer during 10 weeks. In a second treatment phase, non-responding patients could receive the opposite drug. Outcome criteria were response (measured with CGI-BP and IDS-C), switch into mania, and completion of the study. Results: Only 20 of 70 planned patients were randomized, due to problems with recruitment, and 19 patients received any medication. During the first treatment phase 5/8 patients (62.5%) responded to tranylcypromine without switch into mania, compared with 4/11 patients (36.4%) on lamotrigine with two switches (statistically not significant). Over both treatment phases, 8/10 patients (80%) receiving tranylcypromine completed the study vs. 5/13 (38.5%) on lamotrigine (likelihood 0.02). Conclusion: There still appears to be a role for tranylcypromine in the treatment of refractory bipolar depression. Larger controlled studies are demanded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-365
Number of pages6
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticonvulsant
  • Bipolar depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Lamotrigine
  • Lithium
  • Tranylcypromine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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