Efficacy of bupropion and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the treatment of anxiety symptoms in major depressive disorder: A meta-analysis of individual patient data from 10 double-blind, randomized clinical trials

George I. Papakostas, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Jonathan E. Alpert, Cheryl A. Seifert, Alok Krishen, Elizabeth P. Goodale, Vivian L. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


The goal of this work was to compare the efficacy of the norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor bupropion with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of anxiety symptoms in major depressive disorder (MDD). Ten double-blind, randomized studies, involving a total of 2890 bupropion-, SSRI- or placebo- treated patients were pooled. Anxiety symptoms of depression were defined using the Hamilton depression rating scale (HDRS) Anxiety-Somatization factor (HDRS-AS) score, as well as the Hamilton anxiety scale (HAM-A) score. Both bupropion and the SSRIs led to a comparable degree of improvement in anxiety symptoms, defined using the HDRS-AS score (-3.8 ± 2.8 vs. -3.9 ± 2.8, p = 0.130) or HAM-A score (-8.8 ± 7.2 vs. -9.1 ± 7.0, p = 0.177). There was no consistent difference in the time to anxiolysis between the two treatment groups. In addition, there was no difference in the proportion of bupropion- and SSRI- remitters who continued to experience residual anxiety, defined as a HDRS-AS score >0 at endpoint (69.2% vs. 74.7%, p = 0.081) or a HAM-A score >7 at endpoint (9.5% vs. 8.4%, p = 0.284). Finally, there was no statistically significant difference in the severity of residual anxiety symptoms between bupropion- or SSRI- treated patients with remitted depression, defined using the HDRS-AS (1.15 ± 1.14 vs. 1.25 ± 1.09, p = 0.569), or HAM-A scores at endpoint (3.30 ± 2.89 vs. 3.31 ± 2.89, p = 0.552). Contrary to clinician impression, there does not appear to be any difference in the anxiolytic efficacy of bupropion and the SSRIs when used to treat MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-140
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes



  • Anxiety
  • Bupropion
  • Depression
  • MDD
  • SSRIs
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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