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High-dose armodafinil in treatment-refractory bipolar depression.

BACKGROUND: Bipolar depression is a serious neuropsychiatric disorder associated with a high risk of morbidity and suicidality. Standard antidepressants approved for treating major depressive disorder fail to exert efficacy in bipolar depression. Although 5 agents have been developed for the treatment of bipolar depression, treatment resistance is still observed in some patients, and requires off-label pharmacotherapy. Modafinil and armodafinil have been reported to improve treatment-resistant bipolar depression, but with inconsistent results.

METHODS: We present a case of a 65-year-old woman with severe bipolar depression who failed to respond to electroconvulsive therapy and IV ketamine but later responded to high-dose armodafanil.

RESULTS: The patient responded to high-dose armodafinil (gradually titrated to 1,000 mg/d) and achieved remission with good tolerability for 5 years. Recently, she contracted COVID-19 and developed muscular weakness. After a lengthy workup, we became concerned for myopathy as an adverse effect from armodafinil. The patient's dose of armodafinil was significantly reduced and she subsequently became very depressed and functionally disabled before improving again when armodafinil 1,000 mg/d was reinstated.

CONCLUSIONS: We propose that some of the negative results seen in research of armodafinil for bipolar depression may be due to the use of low doses (100 to 200 mg/d), and higher doses may be needed for adequate response in treatment-resistant bipolar depression.

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