This site is intended for health professionals only

SSRIs linked to mania and bipolar in research

Certain antidepressants have been linked to a heightened risk of mania and bipolar disorder, analysis suggests.

The strongest association seemed to be for serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and venlafaxine, a dual action antidepressant, the research, published in BMJ Open, indicated.

People with unipolar depression have an overall 1.1.% increased risk of getting diagnosed within a year of mania or bipolar disorder.

However, this equals a 34-35% relative increased risk of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and/or mania compared to if patients were not on antidepressants, a representative from the study told Nursing in Practice

While antidepressants are still safe to prescribe, health practitioners should look out for patients having side effects, such as elevated mood or mood instability, and their treatment should be re-assessed, they said.

“These findings held true even after taking account of potentially influential factors,” the research reads.

The researchers looked at anonymised medical records of more than 21,000 adults who received antidepressants for major (unipolar) depression between 2006 and 2013, and the subsequent diagnoses of bipolar disorder or mania.

Patients aged between 26 and 35 were most likely to have a peak incidence of mania/bipolar disorder, and previous antidepressant treatment was associated with an increased incidence of mania/bipolar disorder, the research found.

See the full research here.