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Carbamazepine Compared With Lithium in the Treatment of Mania

Joyce G. Small, MD; Marietta H. Klapper, MS; Victor Milstein, PhD; Jeffrey J. Kellams, MD; Marvin J. Miller, MD; Jon D. Marhenke, MD; Iver F. Small, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(10):915-921. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810340047006.
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• Fifty-two hospitalized manic patients were randomized to treatment with either carbamazepine or lithium carbonate after a 2-week drug withdrawal period. All of the probands were tertiary referrals with a high proportion of failures of previous lithium and other treatment. Weekly ratings of manic, depressive, and psychotic symptoms were obtained for 8 weeks, and responders were followed up for up to 2 years. One third of patients responded favorably. Double-blind assessments revealed no statistically reliable differences between the two treatment groups. Patients receiving carbamazepine were somewhat more manageable than patients treated with lithium early in the study, whereas lithium-treated patients remained longer in the follow-up phase. However, numbers of long-term survivors were too small to be conclusive. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that acutely manic patients respond as well to carbamazepine as to lithium. However, monotherapy with either drug is not sufficient for the majority of manic patients who are referred for tertiary care.

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