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Quetiapine Alone and Added to a Mood Stabilizer for Serious Mood Disorders

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(9):728-732

Background: Use of antipsychotic medication intermittently or over the long term may be necessary in treating patients with bipolar disorder whose symptoms have responded suboptimally to standard mood-stabilizing agents. Quetiapine fumarate is an effective novel antipsychotic with mixed serotonergic (5-HT2) and dopaminergic (D2) activity. This is an open-label, 12-week prospective study to assess the efficacy and tolerability of quetiapine in the treatment of patients with bipolar and schizoaffective disorder who were suboptimally responsive to mood stabilizers alone.

Method: Participants in the study were inpatients or outpatients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of bipolar or schizoaffective disorder. Baseline psychopathology was evaluated with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D). Involuntary movements were rated with the Simpson-Angus Neurologic Rating Scale. Quetiapine was added on an open-label basis and increased to optimum clinical dosage. Psychopathology and Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale ratings were repeated weekly for the first 4 weeks and then again at weeks 8 and 12.

Results: Ten individuals with bipolar disorder and 10 with schizoaffective disorder received quetiapine therapy. Overall, patients improved, with significant improvement in BPRS (p < .001), YMRS (p = .043), and HAM-D scores (p = .002). Simpson-Angus score also significantly decreased (p = .02). Overall, quetiapine was well tolerated by patients in this group with serious mood disorders. The mean ± SD quetiapine dose was 202.9 ± 124.3 mg/day (range, 50-400 mg/day). Mean weight gain was 10.9 lb (4.9 kg).

Conclusion: Although limited by its small size, open-label design, and relative gender homogeneity, this study suggests that quetiapine therapy may be useful in the treatment of individuals with serious mood disorders who aresuboptimally responsive to mood stabilizers alone. These preliminary findings should be explored in larger, controlled trials.