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      Lithium Treatment Over the Lifespan in Bipolar Disorders

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          Abstract

          Lithium has been the treatment of choice for patients with bipolar disorder (BD) for nearly 70 years. It is recommended by all relevant guidelines as a first-line treatment for maintenance therapy. In this review, we outline the current state of evidence for lithium in the treatment of BD over the lifespan. First, we summarize the evidence on efficacy in general, from relapse prevention to acute anti-manic treatment and its role in treating mood episodes with mixed features and bipolar depression. As patients are often treated for many years and different aspects have to be considered in different phases of life, we discuss the particularities of lithium in the treatment of paediatric BD, in older aged individuals and in pregnant women. Lastly, we discuss the evidence on lithium's proposed suicide-preventive effects, the dangers of rapid discontinuation and lithium's adverse effects, particularly with regard to long-term treatment.

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          Most cited references 122

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          Bipolar disorder.

          Bipolar disorder is a recurrent chronic disorder characterised by fluctuations in mood state and energy. It affects more than 1% of the world's population irrespective of nationality, ethnic origin, or socioeconomic status. Bipolar disorder is one of the main causes of disability among young people, leading to cognitive and functional impairment and raised mortality, particularly death by suicide. A high prevalence of psychiatric and medical comorbidities is typical in affected individuals. Accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder is difficult in clinical practice because onset is most commonly a depressive episode and looks similar to unipolar depression. Moreover, there are currently no valid biomarkers for the disorder. Therefore, the role of clinical assessment remains key. Detection of hypomanic periods and longitudinal assessment are crucial to differentiate bipolar disorder from other conditions. Current knowledge of the evolving pharmacological and psychological strategies in bipolar disorder is of utmost importance.
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            The International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) task force report on antidepressant use in bipolar disorders.

            The risk-benefit profile of antidepressant medications in bipolar disorder is controversial. When conclusive evidence is lacking, expert consensus can guide treatment decisions. The International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) convened a task force to seek consensus recommendations on the use of antidepressants in bipolar disorders. An expert task force iteratively developed consensus through serial consensus-based revisions using the Delphi method. Initial survey items were based on systematic review of the literature. Subsequent surveys included new or reworded items and items that needed to be rerated. This process resulted in the final ISBD Task Force clinical recommendations on antidepressant use in bipolar disorder. There is striking incongruity between the wide use of and the weak evidence base for the efficacy and safety of antidepressant drugs in bipolar disorder. Few well-designed, long-term trials of prophylactic benefits have been conducted, and there is insufficient evidence for treatment benefits with antidepressants combined with mood stabilizers. A major concern is the risk for mood switch to hypomania, mania, and mixed states. Integrating the evidence and the experience of the task force members, a consensus was reached on 12 statements on the use of antidepressants in bipolar disorder. Because of limited data, the task force could not make broad statements endorsing antidepressant use but acknowledged that individual bipolar patients may benefit from antidepressants. Regarding safety, serotonin reuptake inhibitors and bupropion may have lower rates of manic switch than tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants and norepinephrine-serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The frequency and severity of antidepressant-associated mood elevations appear to be greater in bipolar I than bipolar II disorder. Hence, in bipolar I patients antidepressants should be prescribed only as an adjunct to mood-stabilizing medications.
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              Long-term implications of early onset in bipolar disorder: data from the first 1000 participants in the systematic treatment enhancement program for bipolar disorder (STEP-BD).

              Early onset of mood symptoms in bipolar disorder has been associated with poor outcome in many studies; however, the factors that might contribute to poor outcome have not been adequately investigated. The first consecutive 1000 adult bipolar patients enrolled in the National Institute of Mental Health's Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder were assessed at study entry to determine details of their age of onset of mood symptoms. Clinical course, comorbidity, and functional status and quality of life were compared for groups with very early (age 18 years) onset of mood symptoms. Of 983 subjects in whom age of onset could be determined, 272 (27.7%) experienced very early onset, and 370 (37.6%) experienced early onset. Earlier onset was associated with greater rates of comorbid anxiety disorders and substance abuse, more recurrences, shorter periods of euthymia, greater likelihood of suicide attempts and violence, and greater likelihood of being in a mood episode at study entry. Very early or early onset of bipolar disorder might herald a more severe disease course in terms of chronicity and comorbidity. Whether early intervention might modify this risk merits further investigation.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychiatry
                Front Psychiatry
                Front. Psychiatry
                Frontiers in Psychiatry
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-0640
                07 May 2020
                2020
                : 11
                Affiliations
                1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin , Berlin, Germany
                2 Department of Psychiatry, Schlosspark Hospital Berlin , Germany
                3 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital, Technical University of Dresden , Dresden, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Janusz K. Rybakowski, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland

                Reviewed by: Leonardo Tondo, Centro Lucio Bini, Italy; Giuseppe Tavormina, Independent Researcher, Provaglio d'Iseo, Italy

                *Correspondence: Constantin Volkmann, constantin.volkmann@ 123456charite.de

                This article was submitted to Mood and Anxiety Disorders, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00377
                7221175
                Copyright © 2020 Volkmann, Bschor and Köhler

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 133, Pages: 11, Words: 5934
                Categories
                Psychiatry
                Review

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