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Review Article

Patients With Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Rapid Review of the Literature

Joseph M. Cerimele, MD, MPH; Amy M. Bauer, MD, MS; John C. Fortney, PhD; and Mark S. Bauer, MD

Published: May 24, 2017

Article Abstract

Objective: To summarize the current literature on epidemiology, clinical correlates, and treatment of individuals with co-occurring bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Data Sources: We conducted a focused, time-sensitive review called "rapid review" in November 2015, using keyword searches (including keywords bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, and others) in PubMed for studies of adults with co-occurring bipolar disorder and PTSD.

Study Selection: Results were sorted and systematically searched. An article was excluded if it did not describe adult patients with co-occurring PTSD and bipolar disorder or did not report original data on epidemiology, clinical correlates, or treatment.

Data Extraction: Information on study characteristics including population studied and key findings were extracted onto a data collection tool.

Results: Thirty-two articles were included. Over two-thirds of articles reported epidemiology of co-occurring bipolar disorder and PTSD. Prevalence of PTSD among individuals with bipolar disorder ranged from 4% to 40%, with women and those with bipolar I versus bipolar II disorder experiencing higher prevalence of PTSD. Prevalence of bipolar disorder among individuals with PTSD ranged from 6% to 55%. Baseline PTSD or bipolar disorder was associated with incidence of the other illness. Individuals with co-occurring bipolar disorder and PTSD experienced high symptom burden and low quality of life. No studies evaluated prospective treatment of patients with co-occurring bipolar disorder and PTSD.

Conclusions: Bipolar disorder and PTSD commonly co-occur and result in greater symptom burden than either condition alone. Few published treatment strategies exist for patients with both conditions.

Volume: 78

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