Strategies for Preventing the Recurrence of Bipolar Disorder

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In interpreting the maintenance literature for bipolar disorder, attention needs to be paid to important methodological issues. In this article, we initially examine the methodological topics that need to be considered, and we then examine the content of the evidence regarding maintenance treatments. Agents used in the long-term treatment of bipolar disorder possess varying degrees of supportive evidence. By consensus, the number of randomized studies and years of clinical experience with lithium mark it as the evidentially strongest long-term agent for bipolar disorder. Recent studies also demonstrate likely long-term benefit with lamotrigine, and possibly olanzapine. Although we possess fewer randomized data, some such evidence exists and, along with clinical experience, supports the likely long-term utility of valproate in the treatment of bipolar disorder as well. Some psychotherapies also may possess adjunctive maintenance efficacy.

J Clin Psychiatry 2004;65(suppl 10):16-23