Depot antipsychotic medications in bipolar disorder: a review of the literature

D J Bond, W Pratoomsri, L N Yatham
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Supplementum 2007, (434): 3-16

OBJECTIVE: To review the literature on the efficacy and safety of depot formulations of first- and second-generation antipsychotic medications (FGAs and SGAs) in patients with bipolar disorder.

METHOD: We conducted a computer-aided MEDLINE search using the search terms 'depot antipsychotic', 'bipolar disorder' and 'compliance.'

RESULTS: We identified eight published reports in bipolar patients regarding the use of depot FGAs, and six preliminary reports on the use of depot SGAs. These studies suggest that depots FGAs are efficacious in preventing manic episodes during the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Several studies, however, indicate that depot FGAs may be associated with increased time with depressive symptoms, particularly in patients with a predominantly depressive course of illness. Preliminary data on the role of depot formulations of SGAs suggest that they reduce the frequency of both manic and depressive episodes during maintenance treatment, and are well tolerated by patients.

CONCLUSION: After a careful risk-benefit analysis, depot antipsychotics may be considered for the long-term control of mood episodes in bipolar patients who have relapsed due to medication non-adherence or who have failed to respond to standard therapies. Depot FGAs should be avoided in patients with a high burden of illness from depressive symptoms and particularly in those judged to be at high risk of suicide. The available data on depot formulations of SGAs indicate that they are efficacious in the maintenance treatment of bipolar illness without increasing the burden of the depressive pole of the illness, but further systematic studies are required to definitively assess this.

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