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Keywords:

  • acute treatment;
  • atypical antipsychotics;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • maintenance;
  • mania;
  • remission

Abstract:  Bipolar disorder is a complex condition including depression, mania, and in many cases associated with comorbid anxiety symptoms and substance abuse. Mood stabilizers including lithium and divalproex have been considered standard therapy for the treatment of patients with bipolar disorder, but remission rates remain inadequate. Conventional antipsychotics have demonstrated efficacy for acute mania, but they appear to have little role in the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Despite substantial evidence of efficacy and recent guideline recommendations, atypical antipsychotics remain underused for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Data from double-blind, controlled trials are available for a number of clinically meaningful efficacy measures, including improvement in manic symptoms, onset of action, response rates, remission rates, improvement in comorbid depressive symptoms, and induction/worsening of mania or depression. Atypical antipsychotics are effective both as alternatives to lithium or divalproex as monotherapy, or in combination with these mood stabilizers, in the acute and likely the maintenance treatment of mania. The atypical antipsychotics represent an effective and relatively safe addition to our armamentarium for the treatment of bipolar disorder.