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Mixed states in bipolar disorder - changes in DSM-5 and current treatment recommendations.

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Published:1st Nov 2017
Author: Betzler F, Stöver LA, Sterzer P, Köhler S.
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Ref.:Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2017;21(4):244-258.

Objective: Mixed states in affective disorders represent a particular challenge in clinical routine, characterized by a complicated course of treatment and a worse treatment response.

Methods: Clinical features of mixed states and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria are presented and critical discussed. We then performed a systematic review using the terms 'bipolar', 'mixed' and 'randomized' to evaluate current treatment options.

Results: For pharmacological treatment of mixed states in total, there is still insufficient data from RCTs. However, there is some evidence for efficacy in mixed states from RCTs for atypical antipsychotics, especially olanzapine, aripiprazole and asenapine as well as mood stabilizers as valproate and carbamazepine.

Conclusions: Mixed states are of a high clinical relevance and the DSM-5 criteria substantially reduced the diagnostic threshold. Besides advantages of a better characterization of patients with former DSM-IV-defined mixed episodes, disadvantages arise for example differential diagnoses with a substantial overlap in symptoms such as borderline personality disorders. Atypical antipsychotics, valproate and carbamazepine demonstrated efficacy in a limited sample of RCTs.

Lmitations: The number of RCTs in the treatment of mixed states is highly limited. Furthermore, nearly all studies were funded by pharmaceutical companies which may lead to an underestimation of classical mood stabilizers such as lithium.

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