A meta-analysis of the use of typical antipsychotic agents in bipolar disorder. Academic Article uri icon


  • The potential benefits of typical antipsychotic agents in bipolar disorder are offset by serious treatment-associated side effects. Despite these concerns and the availability of mood stabilizing agents, the treatment of bipolar disorder with typical antipsychotic agents appears to be widespread.A Medline search identified 16 publications that outlined medication use among 2378 bipolar disorder patients. Meta-analysis was used to estimate a weighted average of the relative proportions of the treatment use, where the weights were the reciprocals of the estimated variances for each study.Overall, 84.7% of bipolar patients received typical antipsychotic agents, with a loading toward a greater in-patient (90.7%) relative to out-patient (65.3%) use. Monotherapy accounted for 53.8% of typical antipsychotic use, and typical antipsychotic/mood stabilizer combination therapy accounted for 47.4%. In four studies where length of treatment data were available, the median of minimum typical antipsychotic use was 2.5 months, with 96.0% of the patients receiving typical antipsychotic agents.The meta-analytic technique employed in this analysis is limited by the possible inclusion of studies with unreliable study designs or biased treatment practices, publication bias in which some studies may not have been reported, and possible lack of identification of all relevant studies.Typical antipsychotic agents are commonly used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, possibly due to dissatisfaction with mood stabilizer monotherapy especially in psychotic mania, the high prevalence of psychotic symptoms in acute mania, inappropriate continuation of typical antipsychotic agents after initial stabilization, and/or unavailability or unfamiliarity with new treatments. These findings also suggest that typical antipsychotics may have not only antipsychotic effects in mania but perhaps also antimanic properties.

publication date

  • June 2001