Pharmacologic treatment of rapid cycling and mixed states in bipolar disorder: an argument for the use of lithium


  • DJM has served in the past year and will serve in the coming year on the speakers bureau for AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Sepracor, and Wyeth; and is a member of the scientific advisory board for AstraZeneca.

Corresponding author:
David J. Muzina, M.D. Center for Mood Disorders Treatment and Research, Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute 9500 Euclid Avenue, P57 Cleveland, OH 44195, USA Fax: (216) 445-7032 e-mail:


Lithium has long been considered as less than ideal in the management of rapid cycling and mixed states in bipolar disorder. However, these forms of bipolarity represent a generally more difficult phase of the illness to treat with any medication. Increasing knowledge about lithium’s other beneficial effects, including protection against suicide and neuromodulatory effects which may protect the brain, make it a first-line treatment for any form of bipolar disorder. As newer therapies become available or receive further exploration, we should look to the past and re-embrace lithium as a core therapeutic modality for bipolarity as we move forward in the field, particularly for forms of the disorder such as rapid cycling and mixed states, historically thought to be more treatment resistant.