Emerging trends in the treatment of rapid cycling bipolar disorder: a selected review


Corresponding author: Robert M. Post, MD, Biological Psychiatry Branch, NIMH, Building 10, Room 3N212, 10 Center Drive MSC 1272, Bethesda, MD 20892-1272, USA. Fax: +1 301 402 0052


Recent evidence suggests that lithium therapy (even as supplemented by antidepressants and neuroleptics) is inadequate for the majority of patients with bipolar illness, and particularly those with rapid cycling. Valproate and carbamazepine have emerged as adjuncts and alternatives, but they, too, often require additional approaches with lithium, thyroid hormones, and other putative mood stabilizers, including nimodipine (and related dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers), lamotrigine, gabapentin, topiramate, and the atypical neuroleptics. Evaluating how these agents and the unimodal antidepressants are optimally applied and sequenced in the treatment of bipolar illness with its multiple subtypes, patterns and comorbidities will require much future investigation and the development of new methodological clinical trial approaches.