Novel treatments for bipolar disorder

C. L. Bowden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Treatments other than lithium have recently emerged as equally important in the management of bipolar disorder. The spectrum of efficacy of newer treatments differs from lithium and among the novel drug treatments valproate, generally used as the better tolerated divalproex form, principally benefits manic symptomatology both acutely and in prophylaxis. Atypical antipsychotic drugs have demonstrated efficacy in reducing acute manic symptoms. No controlled evidence of efficacy in prophylaxis has been published. Lamotrigine has demonstrated efficacy in both acute bipolar depression and maintenance efficacy in rapid cycling bipolar patients, especially those patients with bipolar II disorder, which is principally manifested as depression. Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies provide good evidence that regimens of risperidone or olanzapine in combination with lithium or valproate provide greater improvement in acute mania than the mood stabilisers alone. Similarly, valproate combined with antipsychotics provided greater improvement in mania than antipsychotic medication alone and resulted in lower dosage of the antipsychotic medication. A positive but unclear placebo-controlled study of omega-3 fatty acids added to lithium in bipolar disorder needs confirmation in standard clinical trial paradigms. Several other drugs that were reported as beneficial in various facets of bipolar disorder in open trials have not differed from placebo when studied in randomised, placebo-controlled trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-671
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 23 2001


  • Antipsychotic
  • Bipolar
  • Depression
  • Divalproex
  • Lamotrigine
  • Manic-depressive
  • Treatment
  • Valproate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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