February 22nd, 2011
09:07 AM ET

Can antidepressants jump-start bipolar disorder?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Asked by Michelle, Michigan

I had an untreated health issue for a couple of years that threw me into a mild depression. I have a mother and brother who are bipolar and one of the things my therapist told me is that studies show that if you go on an antidepressant and there is a history of bipolar in your family that this can sometimes "kick in" the bipolar. I am lucky and was able to get past my depression with therapy, exercise, etc. I was just wondering what your thoughts were.Expert answer

Dear Michelle,

I've got a lot of thoughts about your question, and they are all confused! In this way I am much like the field of psychiatry as a whole. Ten years ago I would have told you that what you'd heard was absolutely correct and that people with bipolar disorder should avoid antidepressants because of the risk these medications pose in terms of making vulnerable people manic.

I still mostly believe this, but a number of large studies done over the last five years do not do much to confirm the idea that antidepressants are dangerous for people with - or at risk for - bipolar disorder. In these studies, people with bipolar disorder seem able to take antidepressants and not "go manic" at any higher rate than they would have naturally.

On the other hand, anyone who has practiced psychiatry for any time at all can tell you stories of people like yourself with a bipolar family history who went manic soon after going on an antidepressant for the first time. So what's the truth? We just don't know.

In fact, we don't even know whether antidepressants help people with bipolar disorder who get depressed. It's interesting. Studies done on the East Coast of the United States tend to find that antidepressants do not help, whereas studies done on the West Coast suggest that they are of tremendous benefit. What's the truth? We just don't know yet.

There are a few things I think we can say with at least a little certainty. First, we know that people from families with bipolar disorder are twice as likely to have "regular old" depression than to have classic bipolar disorder. Like everyone else, these folks should have their depression treated as rapidly and completely as possible, and antidepressants are often hugely useful in accomplishing this. On the other hand, there is at least some evidence that people with family histories like yours may be at an increased risk of having a manic episode on an antidepressant. This wouldn't stop me from using one, but I'd watch with extra caution. The good news is that you tapped into other well documented antidepressant strategies, including exercise and psychotherapy.

soundoff (765 Responses)
  1. RV Shades Near Me


    May 22, 2021 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Upholstery Near Me

    Right here is the perfect webpage for everyone who hopes to understand this topic. You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for decades. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!


    May 22, 2021 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. orange county tv repair


    May 22, 2021 at 09:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. oc trailers


    May 22, 2021 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Plumbing Riverside

    Howdy! This post could not be written much better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I'll send this article to him. Pretty sure he'll have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 22, 2021 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. semi truck shop near me


    May 22, 2021 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Bathroom Riverside


    May 22, 2021 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Remodel Orange County

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a friend who has been doing a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me lunch simply because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your website.


    May 23, 2021 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Interior Remodeling Los Angeles


    May 23, 2021 at 05:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Digital Marketing Business

    You need to be a part of a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I'm going to highly recommend this website!


    May 23, 2021 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rv parts orange county ca


    May 23, 2021 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. SEO Marketing Experts

    Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 23, 2021 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. solar panels orange county


    May 23, 2021 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. situs poker terpercaya

    Ahaa, its fastidious dialogue about this paragraph here at this website, I have read
    all that, so at this time me also commenting here.

    Here is my web site: situs poker terpercaya

    May 24, 2021 at 03:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Content Marketing Firms

    Great post. I'm facing some of these issues as well..


    May 24, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. combigan

    brimonidine generic brimonidine use

    May 24, 2021 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. solar paint and body


    May 24, 2021 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Tritreviewifind

    tadalafil without a doctor prescription https://tadalafilol.com/ – tadalafil generic tadalafil tadalafil cialis https://tadalafilol.com/

    May 24, 2021 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Local Marketing Firm

    Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to create a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don't manage to get nearly anything done.


    May 24, 2021 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Internet Marketing Company Near Me

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that will make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    May 24, 2021 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Video Marketing Specialist


    May 25, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me


    May 25, 2021 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Google Marketing Agency


    May 25, 2021 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Digital Marketing Service

    Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I've saved as a favorite for later!


    May 25, 2021 at 04:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Video Marketing Near Me

    I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    May 25, 2021 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Google Marketing Services


    May 25, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Content Marketing Firm


    May 25, 2021 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Social Media Marketing Specialist

    I want to to thank you for this good read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new things you post…


    May 25, 2021 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me

    Howdy! This article could not be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I'll forward this post to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 25, 2021 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Jacquline Kastendieck

    I'm looking to find out as much about the online surfing community as I can. Can anyone recommend their favorite blogs, twitter handles, or sites that you find most comprehensive? Which ones are most popular? Thanks!.


    May 25, 2021 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Content Marketing Boutique

    There is certainly a great deal to know about this topic. I like all of the points you have made.


    May 25, 2021 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Internet Marketing Specialist


    May 25, 2021 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Social Media Marketing Agencies

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    May 25, 2021 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Dent Repair Near Me

    You are so interesting! I do not believe I've read through a single thing like this before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!


    May 26, 2021 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Soosteemocush

    tadalafil price walmart https://apcalisetadalafil.com/ cialis at canadian pharmacy cost tadalafil generic generic tadalafil from uk

    May 26, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Beds Los Angeles

    There is definately a great deal to know about this subject. I like all the points you made.


    May 26, 2021 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Couches Near Me


    May 26, 2021 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. rv parts near me now

    This excellent website truly has all the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 26, 2021 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. berita sepak bola

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this paragraph i thought i could also create comment due to this good piece of writing.

    Here is my web blog ... berita sepak bola

    May 26, 2021 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Digital Marketing Businesses


    May 26, 2021 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Blinds Near Me


    May 26, 2021 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. RV Body Shop Orange County


    May 26, 2021 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Supplies California


    May 26, 2021 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. chatsworth collision center


    May 27, 2021 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Body Shop California


    May 27, 2021 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. tausAffessy

    cialis without prescription cheap generic cialis for sale best price usa tadalafil best price usa tadalafil https://apcalisetadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. oc rv storage

    This is a very good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!


    May 27, 2021 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Tires Los Angeles


    May 27, 2021 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. bus repair shops near me

    There's definately a great deal to know about this topic. I really like all of the points you've made.


    May 27, 2021 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. New Forklift Service Shop California

    Howdy, I do believe your web site could be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, wonderful blog!


    May 27, 2021 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to mytraffer000@


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.