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Overview of Patient Care Issues and Treatment in Bipolar Spectrum and Bipolar II Disorder

J Clin Psychiatry 2008;69(6):e18

Recent studies have reported lifetime prevalence estimates of 1.0% for bipolar I disorder, 1.1% for bipolar II disorder, and 2.4% to 4.7% for subthreshold bipolar disorder, illustrating the need for consensus definitions of bipolar spectrum disorders. These definitions will aid researchers in studying viable treatments options, as well as help clinicians in the differential diagnosis of patients. Broader definitions of bipolar spectrum disorders would also allow clinicians to more accurately diagnose patients, rather than placing them in the catchall category of bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. Bipolar symptoms that are currently labeled as subthreshold symptoms are becoming increasingly recognized as having relevant clinical implications. Despite diagnostic controversy, screening for the presence of mania in patients who present with depressive symptoms is a critical step in the appropriate treatment of bipolar spectrum disorders. Identifying the early onset of bipolar symptoms as manifested in prodromal disorders such as childhood major depressive disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is also important for possible early intervention and improved outcomes.

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