Phenomenology and Treatment of Agitation




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Agitation is a troublesome, common symptom in major depression that can be difficult to manage. It is sometimes a side effect of antidepressant treatment and may occasionally represent a mixed bipolar episode. If agitation fails to respond to an antidepressant alone, treatment may be augmented with a benzodiazepine, a neuroleptic, or lithium. Preliminary evidence indicates that divalproex, which has been found useful for bipolar disorder and for agitation associated with Alzheimer’s disease, may also be effective for agitated depression. A controlled trial is now underway.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(suppl 15):17-20