Bipolar Depression: An Evidence-Based Approach

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, 3535 Market Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Current Psychiatry Reports (Impact Factor: 3.24). 11/2011; 13(6):483-7. DOI: 10.1007/s11920-011-0238-7
Source: PubMed


Bipolar disorder is a complex, multidimensional illness that is often difficult to treat. Unfortunately, bipolar patients are much more likely to experience depression, which is all too often severe and a potentially lethal phase of the illness. In addition, pharmacotherapies with strong evidence for bipolar depression are limited. Most treatments are based on unsupported extrapolation from the treatment of unipolar depression or are derived largely from the clinical practice experience. In this article, we focus on the treatment of bipolar depression, with particular focus on evidence from the existing literature, to help guide readers in clinical practice.

7 Reads
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder (BD) respond incompletely or unsatisfactorily to available treatments. Given the potentially devastating nature of this prevalent disorder, there is a pressing need to improve clinical care of such patients. We performed a literature review of the research findings related to treatment-resistant BD reported through February 2012. Therapeutic trials for treatment-resistant bipolar mania are uncommon, and provide few promising leads other than the use of clozapine. Far more pressing challenges are the depressive-dysthymic-dysphoric-mixed phases of BD and long-term prophylaxis. Therapeutic trials for treatment-resistant bipolar depression have assessed anticonvulsants, modern antipsychotics, glutamate [N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)] antagonists, dopamine agonists, calcium-channel blockers, and thyroid hormones, as well as behavioral therapy, sleep deprivation, light therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation, and deep brain stimulation-all of which are promising but limited in effectiveness. Several innovative pharmacological treatments (an anticholinesterase, a glutamine antagonist, a calcium-channel blocker, triiodothyronine, olanzapine and topiramate), ECT, and cognitive-behavior therapy have some support for long-term treatment of resistant BD patients, but most of trials of these treatments have been methodologically limited. Most studies identified were small, involved supplementation of typically complex ongoing treatments, varied in controls, randomization, and blinding, usually involved brief follow-up, and lacked replication. Clearer criteria for defining and predicting treatment resistance in BD are needed, as well as improved trial design with better controls, assessment of specific clinical subgroups, and longer follow-up.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · Bipolar Disorders
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objective: Bipolar disorder (BD) is frequently misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder (MDD), which may lead to inappropriate treatment and poor outcomes. This study aimed to examine prescribing patterns of antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers in BD patients misdiagnosed with MDD in China. Methods: A total of 1487 patients originally diagnosed with MDD were consecutively screened for diagnostic revision in 13 psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric units of general hospitals in China nationwide. The patients' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were recorded using a standardized protocol and data collection procedure. The Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) was used to establish DSM-IV diagnoses. Data on psychotropic prescriptions were collected by a review of medical records. Results: Three hundred and nine of the 1487 patients (20.8%) fulfilled DSM-IV criteria for BD; 118 (7.9%) for BD-I and 191 (12.8%) for BD-II on the MINI. Of the BD patients (n = 309), 227 (73.5%) received any use of antidepressants, 73 (23.6%) antipsychotics and 33 (10.7%) mood stabilizers. In multiple logistic regression analyses, compared with those with MDD, patients with BD-I were more likely to receive antidepressants (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.8, p = 0.02), antipsychotics (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.04-2.5, p = 0.04) and mood stabilizers (OR 3.9, 95% CI 2.1-7.2, p < 0.001), whereas patients with BD-II were more likely to receive mood stabilizers (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.3-4.4, p = 0.003). There was no difference in the use of antidepressants (OR 1.1, 95% CI 0.8-1.5, p = 0.7) and antipsychotics (OR 1.3, 95% CI 0.9-1.9, p = 0.2) between BD-II and MDD. In addition, there was no difference between BD-I and BD-II in any use of antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. Conclusions: The prescription of antidepressants for BD patients misdiagnosed with MDD is very common, and only a very small proportion of patients received guideline-concordant treatment. Considering the potentially hazardous effects of inappropriate pharmacotherapy in this population, continuing education and training addressing the correct diagnosis of BD and rational use of psychotropic medications are needed in China.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Human Psychopharmacology Clinical and Experimental
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This chapter presents an overview of measurement approaches in surveys of mental illness. Although up through the 1980s most survey research on mental illness focused on dimensional measures of nonspecific psychological distress, more recent research has been interested in specific syndromes, such as depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The chapter begins by presenting a brief historical overview of the progression of survey research on mental illness and then presents overviews of the most widely used categorical measures of mental disorders and dimensional measures of symptom severity. It shows that a number of psychometrically sound screening scales exist of nonspecific psychological distress and specific mental disorders. The chapter also describes disorder severity scales, and the fully structured psychiatric diagnostic interviews. Finally, it discusses emerging issues in the survey assessment of mental disorders, with a special emphasis on the problems of nonreporting bias, recall bias, and respondent burden.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014