« | Home | »

Earlier treatment better for bipolar patients

By jeremyc | July 29, 2014

According to a recent study, bipolar disorder (BD) patients have a greater chance of responding to lithium if treatment begins early.

The study was led by Lars Vedel Kessing (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), and two definitions were used to describe early treatment. The first was after initial hospital psychiatry contact for a manic episode and the second was the beginning of a mixed or manic episode after being diagnosed with BD.

Irrespective of the two definitions, patients that received early treatment with lithium had a greater chance of responding to treatment. A total of 4714 patients were part of this study. As per the first definition, 15.2% had lithium from their first contact and 84.8% started later. After five and 10 years, the probability of a good response was 13.3% and 8.7% respectively for early starters but 6.3% and 4% respective for late starters. Thus, the risk reduced 13% when patients took lithium early. As per the second definition, the reduction in risk was 25%.

The researchers noted, “In clinical practice it is a crucial decision when to start prophylactic treatment with lithium. We have no data from randomised trials to guide this decision.” They concluded, “[T]he findings of the study may be generalised only to patients with more severe forms of mania/bipolar disorder who may have a later onset of illness […] although we find it most likely that early intervention with lithium will also have advantages in younger samples.”

Topics: | Bipolar Disorder | No Comments »

Comments are closed.