Antidepressants are medications that treat, and lessen, the symptoms of clinical depression. Some, like fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), buproprion (Wellbutrin), and venlafaxine (Effexor), are among the most widely prescribed medications in the United States.
The usefulness of antidepressants in bipolar disorder is a complex topic that over the years has gone through various twists and turns, both in clinical practice and in what researchers and experts have had to say. This has gone from the extreme of “never prescribe antidepressants to a person with bipolar disorder” to antidepressants packaged in a combination pill with an antipsychotic, fluoxetine/olanzapine (Symbyax), specifically for the treatment of bipolar depression.
In this section, we’ll review many different antidepressants, break them down into their classes, review side effect and safety profiles, and explain current strategies for when they are, and are not, used in the treatment of bipolar disorder.