Acetazolamide for Bipolar Disorders: A Scoping Review

Rebecca Strawbridge*, Nefize Yalin, Stelios Orfanos, Allan H. Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Acetazolamide, a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, is used to treat a variety of ailments. It has been highlighted for its potential to benefit people with bipolar disorders, for whom there are clear current unmet treatment needs. This scoping review sought to synthesise all available evidence related to the potential effects of acetazolamide on symptoms related to bipolar disorder, acceptability and tolerability, and intervention characteristics (e.g., dose and duration). Following publication of the review protocol, the Pubmed, Embase, and PsycInfo databases were searched (all dated to 31 August 2022). A systematic approach was undertaken to identify eligible articles and extract relevant data from these. Five studies were included, assessing a total of 50 patients treated with acetazolamide. Most patients were from two open-label trials, while the others were case reports. Approximately one third of patients were experiencing psychosis or mania before treatment initiation, and one third had refractory depression. Forty-four percent of patients were estimated to achieve a response (not seemingly affected by the baseline episode type, acetazolamide dose, or duration), while a further 22% appeared to experience minimal benefits from the intervention. Acetazolamide was generally reported to be tolerated well and acceptable for up to 2 years, although reporting for acceptability and tolerability was suboptimal. The reviewed evidence is extremely limited in size and methodology (e.g., no randomised studies, blinding, or standardised outcome assessment). We posit that the current findings are sufficiently encouraging to recommend substantive clinical trials, but we emphasise that at present, the evidence is exceedingly preliminary, and there remains evident uncertainty as to whether acetazolamide could be a viable treatment for bipolar disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • acetazolamide
  • bipolar disorder
  • carbonic anhydrase inhibitor
  • scoping review


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