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Baylor College of Medicine’s associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Laura Marangell, M.D., challenges the use of antidepressants with mood stabilizers.

She found that bipolar disorder patients given antidepressants are not relieved from their depression any better than when they are given a placebo. Often bipolar disorder’s mood swings between depression and mania are treated with mood stabilizers like lithium, valproate, lamotrignine, carbamazepine or similar type of medication. Depression is more common than mania in bipolar disorder and causes the most difficulty for people with the disorder.

The study consisted of 366 patients at 22 sites across the nation. All of these patients were drawn from real world populations and many had other disorders like anxiety, substance abuse, or psychosis.

What Marangell found as an effective treatment for bipolar disorder is intensive psychotherapy treatments that involve problem-solving and other coping strategies in addition to mood stabilizers. She stresses the psychotherapy treatments dealt more than usual with the here-and-now issues such as current problem-solving strategies.