What is the importance of dosing or medication adjustments in the treatment of bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness)?

Updated: May 30, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Switch to another effective treatment for patient intolerance to side effects. For patients that switch into mania or hypomania or enter a mixed manic state, follow the recommendations discussed above in Mania/hypomania or mixed episodes.

Reevaluate patients every 1-2 weeks for a minimum of 6 weeks. As noted earlier, the therapeutic range of lithium is a serum trough concentration between 0.6-1.2 mEq/L; for valproate, 50-125 mcg/mL; and for carbamazepine, 4-12 mcg/mL. [3] If the patient’s serum concentrations of their medication fall below the therapeutic range, adjust the drug’s dose to the maximum range. For medications without known therapeutic plasma concentrations, increase the dose until symptomatic improvement, patient intolerance, or the manufacturer’s maximum dose limits have been reached. [3]

In patients with a partial treatment response (no response 2-4 weeks after initiation of an adequate medication dose), consider augmenting the medication with additional agents as discussed under Combination therapy,discontinuing the current drug (tapered withdrawal with monitoring for antidepressant syndrome and mood destabilization) and switching to another effective agent, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) if multiple trials of switching medications/augmentation strategies have been unsuccessful. [3]

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