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Keywords:

  • bipolar disorder;
  • clozapine;
  • maintenance;
  • rapid cycling;
  • treatment-resistant

Objective:  Rapid cycling (RC) bipolar disorder (BD) patients often do not respond fully to mood-stabilizers. Atypical antipsychotics including clozapine may be good candidates as an alternative mood-stabilizer for these patients.

Methods:  Twenty-eight treatment-resistant patients with either Bipolar Disorder Type I (n = 20), or Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type (n = 8) received clozapine add-on therapy. Patients were followed for up to 1 year. Patients were seen monthly and assessed on a number of symptom domains.

Results:  Fifteen of 28 patients met RC criteria. Differences between groups was non-significant for reported age of onset, age at study entry, past history of treatment or hospitalization, or diagnosis. However, significantly more women were RC. More than 80% of patients in either group showed at least some improvement over the 1-year study. Random regression analyses found the non-rapid cycling (NRC) group experienced significantly greater improvement than RC patients (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions:  Clozapine is more effective in NRC patients with a history of mania in comparison to patients with a recent history of RC.