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Educational Activity

Bipolar Disorder Maintenance Treatment: Monitoring Effectiveness and Safety

Michael E. Thase, MD

Published: April 15, 2012

This CME activity is expired. For more CME activities, visit
Find more articles on this and other psychiatry and CNS topics:
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders


Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness that requires long-term treatment, the goal of which is to shorten or prevent mood episodes without increasing cycle frequency, thereby increasing the length of well periods. Treatment guidelines recommend mood stabilizers as first-line medications, and several atypical antipsychotics are also approved as monotherapy or as adjuncts to mood stabilizers for maintenance treatment. Combination therapy with 2 mood stabilizers or with a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic may be necessary to achieve or maintain remission of the patient’s symptoms. When treating patients with mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics during the maintenance phase, physicians should systematically monitor for adverse effects, particularly weight gain, and tolerability issues, and address those issues in a timely manner in order to enhance treatment adherence and improve patient outcomes.


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