Bipolar depression: issues in diagnosis and treatment.
ABSTRACT Although bipolar affective disorder is defined by the history of manic or hypomanic episodes, depression is arguably a more important facet of the illness. Depressive episodes, on average, are more numerous and last longer than manic or hypomanic episodes, and most suicides occur during these periods. Misdiagnosis of major depressive disorder delays initiation of appropriate therapy, further worsening prognosis. Distinguishing features of bipolar depression include earlier age of onset, a family history of bipolar disorder, presence of psychotic or reverse neurovegetative features, and antidepressant-induced switching. Bipolar I depressions should initially be treated with a mood stabilizer (carbamazapine, divalproex, lamotrigine, lithium, or an atypical antipsychotic); antidepressant monotherapy is contraindicated. More severe or "breakthrough" episodes often require a concomitant antidepressant, such as bupropion or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). The first treatment specifically approved for bipolar depression is a combination of the SSRI fluoxetine and the atypical antipsychotic olanzapine. For refractory depressive episodes, venlafaxine, the monoamine oxidase inhibitor tranylcypromine, and ECT are most widely recommended. The optimal duration of maintenance antidepressant therapy has not been established empirically and, until better evidence-based guidelines are established, should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
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ABSTRACT: In this article, we discuss processes of recovery in bipolar disorder. We utilized a hermeneutical-phenomenological approach developed within a reflexive-collaborative framework to examine what individuals do to promote improvement and positive change in their own lives. The study was designed and carried out in collaboration with an expert-by-experience group of 12 coresearchers with firsthand experiences of mental distress and recovery. In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 participants who acknowledged having lived and dealt with a bipolar disorder. Four core themes were drawn from our analysis: (a) handling ambivalence about letting go of manic states; (b) finding something to hang on to when the world is spinning around; (c) becoming aware of signals from self and others; and (d) finding ways of caring for oneself. Interrelationships between the four themes, along with limitations, strengths, and implications of the study are discussed.Qualitative Health Research 06/2011; 22(1):119-33. DOI:10.1177/1049732311411487 · 2.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Bipolar depression is more common, disabling, and difficult-to-treat than the manic and hypomanic phases that define bipolar disorder. Unlike the treatment of so-called "unipolar" depressions, antidepressants generally are not indicated as monotherapies for bipolar depressions and recent studies suggest that -even when used in combination with traditional mood stabilizers - antidepressants may have questionable value for bipolar depression. The current practice is that mood stabilizers are initiated first as monotherapies; however, the antidepressant efficacy of lithium and valproate is modest at best. Within this context the role of atypical antipsychotics is being evaluated. The combination of olanzapine and the antidepressant fluoxetine was the first treatment to receive regulatory approval in the US specifically for bipolar I depression. Quetiapine was the second medication to be approved for this indication, largely as the result of two pivotal trials known by the acronyms of BOLDER (BipOLar DEpRession) I and II. Both studies demonstrated that two doses of quetiapine (300 mg and 600 mg given once daily at bedtime) were significantly more effective than placebo, with no increased risk of patients switching into mania. Pooling the two studies, quetiapine was effective for both bipolar I and bipolar II depressions and for patients with (and without) a history of rapid cycling. The two doses were comparably effective in both studies. Although the efficacy of quetiapine monotherapy has been established, much additional research is necessary. Further studies are needed to more fully investigate dose-response relationships and comparing quetiapine monotherapy to other mood stabilizers (lithium, valproate, and lamotrigine) in bipolar depression, both singly and in combination. Head-to-head studies are needed comparing quetiapine to the olanzapine-fluoxetine combination. Longer-term studies are needed to confirm the persistence of response and to better gauge effects on metabolic profiles across months of therapy. A prospective study of patients specifically seeking treatment for rapid cycling and those with a history of treatment-emergent affective shifts also is needed. Despite the caveats, as treatment guidelines are revised to incorporate new data, the efficacy and tolerability of quetiapine monotherapy must be given serious consideration.Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 03/2008; 4(1):11-21. DOI:10.2147/NDT.S1162 · 2.15 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We examined a modified version of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) among treatment-seeking patients with co-occurring bipolar disorder and substance dependence in order to elucidate key features of depression in this specific population of patients. Patients with current bipolar disorder and substance dependence who were prescribed mood stabilizers (n=105) completed a 27-item version of the HDRS that was subjected to item and principal components analyses. Preliminary validity analysis consisted of comparing the derived total and component scores to the depressed mood indicators from the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). Eleven items representing two related components labeled "melancholia" and "anxiety" were retained. The 11-item HDRS total and component scores were higher for those who reported serious depression, serious anxiety, cognitive problems, and suicidal ideation on the ASI than for those who did not report these problems. We conducted the analyses with a relatively small sample of patients who were primarily white and were diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, thus limiting the generalizability of findings. Moreover, we obtained limited data regarding construct validity of the 11-item scale. Our psychometric evaluation of the HDRS led us to retain 11 items representing primarily melancholic and neurovegetative symptoms of depression. These findings suggest that sample-specific item characteristics of the HDRS need to be evaluated prior to using this scale to assess depressive symptom severity among patients with complex diagnostic and treatment characteristics.Journal of Affective Disorders 03/2008; 106(1-2):83-9. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2007.05.024 · 3.71 Impact Factor