The role of memantine in the treatment of psychiatric disorders other than the dementias: A review of current preclinical and clinical evidence

Gabriele Sani, Giulia Serra, Giorgio D. Kotzalidis, Silvia Romano, Stefano M. Tamorri, Giovanni Manfredi, Matteo Caloro, C. Ludovica Telesforo, Saverio S. Caltagirone, Isabella Panaccione, Alessio Simonetti, Francesca Demontis, Gino Serra, Paolo Girardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Memantine, a non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist approved for Alzheimers disease with a good safety profile, is increasingly being studied in a variety of non-dementia psychiatric disorders. We aimed to critically review relevant literature on the use of the drug in such disorders. We performed a PubMed search of the effects of memantine in animal models of psychiatric disorders and its effects in human studies of specific psychiatric disorders. The bulk of the data relates to the effects of memantine in major depressive disorder and schizophrenia, although more recent studies have provided data on the use of the drug in bipolar disorder as an add-on. Despite interesting preclinical data, results in major depression are not encouraging. Animal studies investigating the possible usefulness of memantine in schizophrenia are controversial; however, interesting findings were obtained in open studies of schizophrenia, but negative placebo-controlled, double-blind studies cast doubt on their validity. The effects of memantine in anxiety disorders have been poorly investigated, but data indicate that the use of the drug in obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder holds promise, while findings relating to generalized anxiety disorder are rather disappointing. Results in eating disorders, catatonia, impulse control disorders (pathological gambling), substance and alcohol abusedependence, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are inconclusive. In most psychiatric non-Alzheimers disease conditions, the clinical data fail to support the usefulness of memantine as monotherapy or add-on treatment However, recent preclinical and clinical findings suggest that add-on memantine may show antimanic and mood-stabilizing effects in treatment-resistant bipolar disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-690
Number of pages28
JournalCNS Drugs
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Anxiety-disorders
  • Attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder
  • Bipolar-disorders
  • Catatonia
  • Dementia
  • Eating-disorders
  • Gambling
  • Impulse-control-disorders
  • Major-depressive-disorder
  • Memantine
  • NMDA-receptor-antagonists
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance-related-disorders.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Neurology


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