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Psychopharmacological treatment status in outpatients with bipolar disorder: a clinical survey in Germany

Psychopharmacological treatment status in outpatients with bipolar disorder: a clinical survey in Germany

Psychiatry Investigation 7(3): 155-162

The objective of this epidemiological study was to evaluate the current treatment status as well as the acceptance of medication and satisfaction with life in outpatients with bipolar disorder in Germany. Data for this cross-sectional epidemiologic survey was collected between February 15th, 2006 and May 31st, 2006. Three hundreds six bipolar euthymic outpatients under routine treatment conditions were included in the study. Forty one practicing psychiatrists used a clinical interview to evaluate the current treatment status, acceptance of current medication, and current life satisfaction. The majority of patients suffered from "pure" bipolar-II-disorder (50.6%), followed by 23.0% with "pure" bipolar-I-disorder. Apart from these patients, 12.9% of all participants had a history of mixed episodes and 5.6% a history of rapid cycling. Mean duration of bipolar disorder was 10.6 years. The majority of patients (54.3%) received psychopharmacological monotherapy. Combination therapy was administered in 45.9% of the patients, 39.3% receiving two agents, and 6.6% three agents. Antidepressants (64.1%) were the most common combination medications. Monotherapy was used preferably in bipolar-I- (62.7%) and bipolar-II-disorders (56.2%), combination therapy predominantly in patients with a history of mixed episodes (57.7%) and rapid cycling (55.0%). Half of the patients (49.2%) were able to hold an occupation. 84.2% of all patients were satisfied with their medication. Overall, patients evaluated their life satisfaction between "good" and "satisfactory" (2.69 according to German school grades where 1 is the highest and 6 the lowest mark). Patients receiving lithium, valproate or antidepressants as monotherapy rated above the mean, patients with combination therapy, carbamazepine monotherapy or medications summarized as "others" rated below the mean. Most of the German outpatients received a pharmacotherapy that is recommended in the guidelines of bipolar disorder. The use of (atypical) antipsychotics was low. Conversely, the incidence of treatment with tricyclic antidepressants (not guideline compatible), was observed to be relatively high. Irrespective of their medication, in Germany patients with bipolar disorder show a high acceptance of their pharmacotherapy, and rate their life satisfaction as high. Nonetheless, half of the evaluated patients were not able to pursue a profession. Besides the disease age, gender and family life e.g., child care may also play a confounding role regarding the unemployment statistics.

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Accession: 055275172

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PMID: 20927303

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