Pharmacological Therapies in Bipolar Disorder: a Review of Current Treatment Options.

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Pharmacological Therapies in Bipolar Disorder: a Review of Current Treatment Options.

Psychiatr Danub. 2019 Sep;31(Suppl 3):595-603

Authors: Joshi A, Bow A, Agius M

BACKGROUND: Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterised by periods of elevated mood alternating with periods of depression. Long-term relapse prevention in bipolar disorder is challenging, with a significant number of patients relapsing following the initial stabilisation of mood. Initial treatment of the condition is complex and usually occurs in secondary care. Whilst there is no known cure for bipolar disorder, several therapies have been found to be effective in both managing acute episodes and sustaining long-term remission. The key pharmacological therapies in bipolar disorder are lithium salts, antiepileptics and antipsychotics and these will be the focus of this review.
AIM: This review seeks to outline the key common pharmacological therapies used in the treatment and relapse prevention of this condition.
METHODS: A MEDLINE search was performed, and the available literature was subsequently analysed, including meta-analyses, reviews and original clinical trials.
RESULTS: Management strategies can be subdivided into treating acute presentations of mania and depression and maintaining long-term remission. The extensive side effect profile of several antipsychotics means that there are certain patient groups for whom they may be intolerable or contraindicated. Lithium emerges as a highly efficacious maintenance therapy but retains the burden of therapeutic drug monitoring. Antiepileptics play a crucial role in maintaining remission but are linked to serious, albeit rare, side effects.
CONCLUSION: Despite the efficacy of the medications discussed in this article, their underlying mechanisms of action remain to be fully elucidated. Nonetheless, these key therapies continue to be essential tools in the management of bipolar disorder.

PMID: 31488797 [PubMed - in process]