Managing bipolar disorder in the elderly: defining the role of the newer agents.

Case University School of Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.
Drugs & Aging (Impact Factor: 2.84). 02/2005; 22(1):39-54.
Source: PubMed


Clinical research in geriatric psychopharmacology has been a relatively neglected focus compared with the wealth of information on younger populations, and there is a dearth of published, controlled trials. Similarly, these are limited data in the area of geriatric bipolar disorder. Although there is an absence of rigorous, evidence-based information, preliminary data on older adults with bipolar disorder suggest some promising treatment options and important differences in older versus younger patients with bipolar illness. Lithium, while widely utilised in younger populations, is often poorly tolerated in the elderly. Clinical evidence regarding use of antiepileptic compounds in late-life bipolar disorder is generally compiled from bipolar disorder studies in mixed populations, studies in older adults with seizure disorders, and studies on dementia and psychotic conditions other than bipolar disorder. Valproate semisodium and carbamazepine are widely prescribed compounds in older adults with bipolar disorder. However, the popularity of these compounds has occurred in context of an absence of evidence-based data. The atypical antipsychotics have expanded the treatment armamentarium for bipolar disorder in mixed populations and may offer particular promise in management of bipolar illness in older populations as well. Olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine, ziprasidone and aripiprazole are atypical antipsychotics that have been approved by the US FDA for the treatment of bipolar disorder; however, there are no published, controlled trials with atypical antipsychotics specific to mania in geriatric patients. Preliminary reports on the use of clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine and quetiapine suggest a role for the use of these agents in late-life bipolar disorder. Information with ziprasidone and aripiprazole specific to geriatric bipolar disorder is still lacking.

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