The mood disorders—primarily major depressive disorder and bipolar affective disorder—constitute one of the world's greatest public health problems and are associated with significant reductions in productivity, health, and longevity. In addition, people who suffer from these common illnesses, along with their families and loved ones, experience an incalculable toll on quality of life. Dating to the introduction of the first effective therapies for mood disorders in the late 1950s and 1960s, various types of pharmacotherapy have become a mainstay for the management of mood disorders, particularly more severe, chronic, and recurrent forms of depression and most forms of bipolar disorder. This review examines recent developments in the pharmacotherapy of both forms of mood disorder, comparing the newer antidepressants such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors with their predecessors (the monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants) and likewise comparing the older standard for management of bipolar disorder, lithium, with newer classes of medications, such as a selected group of anticonvulsants and the atypical antipsychotics. Although these newer classes of medications have generally improved upon the earlier treatments in terms of better tolerability and safety, there are no universally effective pharmacologic treatments for mood disorders, and careful medical management of these medications is still warranted.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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