Korean J Fam Med 2016; 37(3): 137-148  https://doi.org/10.4082/kjfm.2016.37.3.137
Pharmacotherapy of Acute Bipolar Depression in Adults: An Evidence Based Approach
Ather Muneer*
Department of Psychiatry, Islamic International Medical College, Riphah International University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Ather Muneer Tel: +92-51-548-1828, Fax: +92-51-512-5170, E-mail: muneerather2@gmail.com
Received: January 26, 2016; Revised: February 17, 2016; Accepted: February 25, 2016; Published online: May 20, 2016.
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In the majority of cases of bipolar disorder, manic episodes are usually brief and typically responsive to currently available psychopharmacological agents. In contrast, depressive manifestations are more prevalent and persistent, and can present as major depressive/mixed episodes or residual interepisode symptoms. The depressive phase is often associated with other neuropsychiatric conditions, such as anxiety spectrum disorders, substance use disorders, stressor-related disorders, and eating disorders. It is viewed as a systemic disease with associated ailments such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease. There is an increased rate of mortality not only from suicide, but also from concomitant physical illness. This scenario is made worse by the fact that depressive symptoms, which represent the main disease burden, are often refractory to existing psychotropic drugs. As such, there is a pressing need for novel agents that are efficacious in acute depressive exacerbations, and also have applicable value in preventing recurrent episodes. The rationale of the present review is to delineate the pharmacotherapy of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder with medications for which there is evidence in the form of observational, open-label, or double-blind randomized controlled studies. In the treatment of acute bipolar depression in adults, a comprehensive appraisal of the extant literature reveals that among mood stabilizers, the most robust proof of efficacy exists for divalproex sodium; while atypical antipsychotics, which include olanzapine, quetiapine, lurasidone, and cariprazine, are also effective, as demonstrated in controlled trials.
Keywords: Bipolar Depression; Drug Therapy; Mood Stabilizers; Anticonvulsants; Atypical Antipsychotics

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