Mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics: bimodal treatments for bipolar disorder

Terence A Ketter, Henry A Nasrallah, Andrea Fagiolini
Psychopharmacology Bulletin 2006, 39 (1): 120-46
Treatment options for bipolar disorder have rapidly expanded over the last decade, but providing optimal management remains an elusive goal. The authors reviewed the literature on the efficacy of agents with the best clinical evidence supporting their use in bipolar disorder, including the mood stabilizers lithium, valproate, lamotrigine, and carbamazepine, as well as the atypical antipsychotics olanzapine, risperidone, quetiapine, ziprasidone, and aripiprazole. Most medications appear to be more effective for symptoms of mood elevation than for symptoms of depression. The efficacy, tolerability, and safety profiles of agents must be considered when making clinical decisions. Several agents, including lithium, valproate, olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone, can cause problematic weight gain. In addition, the use of atypical antipsychotics has been associated with an increased risk of metabolic abnormalities such as dyslipidemia, hypergylycemia, and diabetes mellitus. In most patients, monotherapy offers inadequate efficacy. Further investigation of combinations of agents such as mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics may yield valuable insights into the potential of combination therapies to enhance clinical outcomes in patients with bipolar disorder.

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