Harvard Mental Health Letter

Medication Update: Tamoxifen investigated as mania treatment

Medication Update

Tamoxifen investigated as mania treatment

Although tamoxifen is best known as a hormonal treatment for breast cancer, a pilot study indicates that it may also be useful in treating acute mania in patients with bipolar disorder.

Tamoxifen works mainly by inhibiting estrogen, but laboratory experiments indicate that it also inhibits enzymes in the protein kinase C (PKC) family, which are active in the brain as well as other parts of the body. Researchers decided to test tamoxifen as a treatment for mania after laboratory studies indicated that PKC may contribute to manic behavior.

Researchers randomly assigned 16 men and women with bipolar disorder to receive tamoxifen (20 mg to 140mg per day) or placebo. Doses were adjusted up or down, depending on response and side effects. All participants had been diagnosed years earlier with bipolar disorder and had taken at least one medication previously.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »