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Bupropion Sustained Release for Bereavement: Results of an Open Trial

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62:227-230

Objective: The present study was conducted to assess whether DSM-IV-defined bereavement responds to bupropion sustained release (SR).

Method: Twenty-two subjects who had lost their spouses within the previous 6 to 8 weeks and who met DSM-IV symptomatic/functional criteria for a major depressive episode were evaluated. Subjects completed the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), the Clinical Global Impressions scale, the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief, and the Inventory of Complicated Grief at baseline and follow-up. Subjects were treated with bupropion SR, 150 to 300 mg/day, for 8 weeks.

Results: Improvement was noted in both depression and grief intensity. For the intent-to-treat group, 59% experienced a reduction of >= 50% on HAM-D scores. The correlations between changes in the HAM-D scores and the grief scale scores were high, ranging from 0.61 (p = .006) to 0.44 (p = .054).

Conclusion: Major depressive symptoms occurring shortly after the loss of a loved one (i.e., bereavement) appear to respond to bupropion SR. Treatment of these symptoms does not intensify grief; rather, improvement in depression is associated with decreases in grief intensity. The results of this study challenge prevailing clinical wisdom that DSM-IV-defined bereavement should not be treated. Larger, placebo-controlled studies are indicated.