Recent data from several reports indicate that free radicals are involved in the biochemical mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders in human. The results of several reports suggest that lower antioxidant defences against lipid peroxidation exist in patients with depression and that there is a therapeutic benefit from antioxidant supplementation in unstable manic-depressive patients. We investigated the antioxidant enzyme status and the indices of oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation end products in erythrocytes from patients with affective disorder. For this purpose, we measured superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and catalase (CAT) activities, as well as malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO) levels in patients with affective disorders (n=30) in both pre- and post-treatment periods, and in a control group (n = 21). CAT activities were significantly decreased in both pre-, and post-treatment periods in patients compared to the control group. GSH-Px activity in the pre-treatment period in the patients was significantly lower than both post-treatment patient and control groups. MDA levels were increased in both pre-, and post-treatment patient groups compared to the control group. NO level was lower in the pre-treatment patient group than in the control group. There were statistically significant correlations between SOD and MDA, and SOD and NO in the pre-treatment patient and control groups. Because the overall study sample was small, and the post-treatment patient group was even smaller, it can tentatively be suggested that the antioxidant system is impaired during a mood episode in patients with affective disorders, normalizing at the end of the episode. (C) 2004 Lippincott Williams Wilkins.