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Original Research

Citalopram for Acute and Preventive Efficacy in Bipolar Depression (CAPE-BD): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

S. Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPHa,b,*; Elizabeth A. Whitham, MDc; Paul A. Vohringer, MD, MPHa,d; Sergio A. Barroilhet, MDa,d; Andrea Amerio, MDa,e,f; Oleksandr Sverdlov, PhDg; and Ashwin A. Patkar, MDh

Published: January 12, 2021


Objective: To assess the efficacy and safety of citalopram in the acute and maintenance phases of bipolar depression in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Methods: Between 2007 and 2014, 119 subjects with acute major depressive episodes diagnosed with DSM-IV bipolar disorder, type I or type II, were randomized blindly to citalopram or placebo, added to standard mood stabilizers. They were followed for 6 weeks for acute efficacy (primary outcome) and up to 1 year for maintenance efficacy (secondary outcome) using scores on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) and the Mania Rating Scale of the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (MRS-SADS). The study was powered for a clinically meaningful effect size.

Results: Mean ± SD MADRS scores changed from a baseline value of 27.4 ± 9.1 to 13.1 ± 8.4 at the end of the acute phase for citalopram versus a change from 27.4 ± 7.3 to 15.2 ± 9.9 for placebo, a clinically and statistically nonsignificant difference. Maintenance efficacy also was not better with citalopram than with placebo. Acute manic/hypomanic episodes were similar in both groups, and subjects with type II illness did not have better outcomes than subjects with type I illness. In maintenance treatment, MRS-SADS scores were greater overall, especially in subjects with a rapid-cycling illness course, with citalopram versus placebo.

Conclusions: Citalopram, added to standard mood stabilizers, did not have clinically meaningful benefit versus placebo for either acute or maintenance treatment of bipolar depression. Acute mania did not worsen with citalopram, but maintenance treatment led to worsened manic symptoms, especially in subjects with a rapid-cycling course.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT00562861

Volume: 82

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