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Current Neuropharmacology


ISSN (Print): 1570-159X
ISSN (Online): 1875-6190

Review Article

Pharmacological Strategies for Bipolar Disorders in Acute Phases and Chronic Management with a Special Focus on Lithium, Valproic Acid, and Atypical Antipsychotics

Author(s): Marco Carli, Francesco Weiss, Giovanna Grenno, Sergio Ponzini, Shivakumar Kolachalam, Francesca Vaglini, Cristina Viaggi, Carla Pardini, Simone Tidona, Biancamaria Longoni, Roberto Maggio and Marco Scarselli*

Volume 21, Issue 4, 2023

Published on: 24 February, 2023

Page: [935 - 950] Pages: 16

DOI: 10.2174/1570159X21666230224102318

Price: $65


Bipolar disorders (BDs) are a heterogeneous group of severe affective disorders generally described by the alternation of (hypo)manic, depressive, and mixed phases, with euthymic intervals of variable duration. BDs are burdened with high psychiatric and physical comorbidity, increased suicide risk and reduced life expectancy. In addition, BDs can progress into complicated forms (e.g., mixed states, rapid/irregular cycling), which are more difficult to treat and often require personalized pharmacological combinations. Mood stabilizers, particularly Lithium and Valproic acid (VPA), still represent the cornerstones of both acute and chronic pharmacotherapies of BDs. Lithium is the gold standard in BD-I and BDII with typical features, while VPA seems more effective for atypical forms (e.g., mixed-prevalence and rapid-cycling). However, despite appropriate mood stabilization, many patients show residual symptoms, and more than a half recur within 1-2 years, highlighting the need of additional strategies. Among these, the association of atypical antipsychotics (AAPs) with mood stabilizers is recurrent in the treatment of acute phases, but it is also being growingly explored in the maintenance pharmacotherapy. These combinations are clinically more aggressive and often needed in the acute phases, whereas simplifying pharmacotherapies to mood stabilizers only is preferable in the long-term, whenever possible. When mood stabilizers are not enough for maintenance treatment, Quetiapine and, less consistently, Aripiprazole have been proposed as the most advisable adjunctive strategies, for their safety and tolerability profiles. However, in view of the increased risk of serious adverse effects, a careful patient-centered balance between costs and benefits is mandatory.

Keywords: Bipolar disorders, lithium, valproic acid, antipsychotics, acute treatment, chronic management.

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