Atypical antipsychotics and mood stabilization in bipolar disorder

Paolo Brambilla, Francesco Barale, Jair C. Soares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The available literature on the use of atypical antipsychotics for the treatment of bipolar disorder was reviewed. All uncontrolled and controlled reports were identified through a comprehensive Medline search. Based on the available evidence, olanzapine was found to be the most appropriate atypical antipsychotic agent utilized for the treatment of manic bipolar patients, although there is also preliminary data suggesting the efficacy of risperidone and clozapine. The preliminary data evaluating the efficacy of quetiapine and ziprasidone in bipolar disorder are still very limited. Double-blind controlled studies with atypical antipsychotics in the long-term treatment of bipolar disorder are still largely not available, but will be critical to determine the effectiveness of these agents in the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. There are recent uncontrolled suggestions that olanzapine may have beneficial effects in depressed bipolar patients, which deserve further investigation in controlled studies. In conclusion, atypical antipsychotics, due to lower potential for neurotoxicity and preliminary evidence suggesting better efficacy than typical antipsychotics, are increasingly having a more prominent role in the pharmacological management of bipolar patients. Nonetheless, until there is systematic data from long-term controlled follow-up studies on the comparative efficacy of these agents with mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics should be cautiously utilized, and preferably in combination with a mood stabilizer for the maintenance phase of treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-332
Number of pages18
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


  • Clozapine
  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Olanzapine
  • Quetiapine
  • Risperidone
  • Ziprasidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology

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