Modafinil for depressive disorders
Many people take antidepressant medication for a variety of ills. The most commonly used antidepressants are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). These include Paxil, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Prozac, etc. But stimulants sometimes are employed to treat depression, and it is known that sleep deprivation can act as a short-term fix for depression.
Modafinil has carved out a niche in treatment of depression. Modafinil has a novel mechanism. A University of Nevada at Reno controlled study used such tools as the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale and the Hamilton Depression and Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scales to measure response to modafinil treatment for depression. All three measures showed improvements after 2 weeks and 3 months of modafinil treatment.
More recently, a European study concluded that modafinil combined with SSRIs can be an effective treatment for depression. Many US doctors have been prescribing them together for years now. A French study looked at modafinil used in conjunction with sleep deprivation for depression. It’s not used often, but intentionally depriving patients of sleep is one treatment for depression. Modafinil can help keep people from going back to sleep too much.
A Stanford University study showed that modafinil may be a “useful and a well-tolerated adjunctive agent to standard antidepressants in the treatment of major depression.”
Recent research has suggested that modafinil causes an increase in dopamine levels in the same areas of the brain that cocaine works on. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter involved in many addictive pathologies. The nucleus accumbens, implicated in many substance use disorders, experienced higher dopamine levels in study participants. This has raised concerns that modafinil might have addictive potential.
Related: There is evidence that the modafinil can help with bipolar depression.
More on bipolar.