• bipolar disorder;
  • antidepressants;
  • relapse

Objective:  To examine the risk of relapse into mania or depression with varying duration of antidepressant treatment in a cohort of 59 patients with bipolar disorder.

Method:  An open naturalistic evaluation using life charting methods of patients with 1 year follow-up, who responded to antidepressant treatment and who then less or more than 6 months of antidepressant treatment.

Results:  Patients who received more than 6 months of antidepressant treatment were less likely to relapse into depression at follow-up of 1 year. There was no difference in relapse rates for mania in the different antidepressant treatment duration groups. Gender and bipolar subtype did not significantly affect relapse rates for depression or mania.

Conclusion:  Our data, taken with other studies, suggest that the duration of optimal antidepressant treatment in bipolar disorder must be further evaluated.