Lithium versus antidepressants in the long-term treatment of unipolar affective disorder.Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006; (4):CD003492CD
The main rationale for the use of lithium in the long-term treatment of unipolar affective disorder is its efficacy in treating bipolar affective disorder and resistant depression. However, there is considerable uncertainty about which pharmacological intervention is most effective in the long-term treatment of recurrent unipolar affective disorder.
To assess the effects of lithium versus antidepressants for the long-term treatment of recurrent affective disorder.
We searched the Cochrane Collaboration Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis Controlled Trials Registers (CCDANCTR-Studies and CCDANCTR-References) on 2/9/2005. Reference lists of relevant papers and major textbooks of affective disorder were checked. Experts in the field and pharmaceutical companies were contacted regarding unpublished material.
Randomised controlled trials comparing lithium against antidepressant medication for the long-term treatment of patients with a diagnosis of affective disorder.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. We contacted study authors for additional information. We collected adverse effects information from the trials.
Eight trials involving 475 people were included. Two of the studies included a mixed group of participants with either bipolar or unipolar disorder. Relapse was defined as admission to hospital and when all kinds of relapses were considered (both depressive and manic), there was a statistically significant difference in favour of lithium (relative risk (RR) fixed effect 0.34, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.82). The results did not exclude the point of no effect, when the random-effects model was used (RR random effects 0.40, 95% CI 0.14 to 1.18). There were no other statistically significant differences between lithium and antidepressants according to all other outcomes considered. Manic or depressive relapse was defined as prescription of non-study medication for mood disorder, manic or depressive relapse (as defined by the study authors), quality of life, social functioning, occupational functioning, overall drop-out rate, drop-out rate due to side-effects, troublesome side-effects, mortality due to all causes and specifically suicides.