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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 52 (2010) 11, 763 - 773

Review article

Modafinil in psychiatric disorders: the promising state reconsidered

L. Joos, L. Docx, L. Schmaal, B.G.C. Sabbe, G. Dom

background For more than two decades psychiatrists have known about and have promoted modafinil, a very promising stimulant that boosts wakefulness in cases of narcolepsy and also enhances cognitive functions. At present, however, we must conclude that modafinil is hardly ever used to treat illness other than narcolepsy.
aim To review current attitudes and practice with regard to the use and efficacy of modafinil in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
method Relevant placebo-controlled studies were retrieved via PubMed (Medline) and Web of Science.
results Modafinil is used experimentally to treat adhd, mood disorders, schizophrenia and substance-dependence. Compared to placebo, modafinil achieves positive but mainly variable results on different clinical and cognitive measures. It achieves results very rapidly, within a week, but over a period of time the results stabilise.
conclusion Modafinil is particularly successful in the treatment of adhd, depression and cocaine-dependency on measures of attention and hyperactivity, fatigue and cocaine-use respectively. There is a need for further placebo-controlled trials with longer follow-up periods and larger sample size in order to ensure the safety of the product and to refine its area of efficacy.

keywords modafinil, psychiatric disorders, placebo-controlled