Evidence-Based Reviews

Older-age bipolar disorder: A case series

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Treatment is not specific to OABD

No established treatment guidelines specifically address OABD. It has been treated similarly to EOBD, with antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Although lithium is effective, special precautions should be taken when prescribing it to older adults because these patients may be more sensitive to adverse events.11 Drug–drug interactions may also be more likely due to concomitant use of medications for common medical issues such as hypertension.

Treatment with antipsychotics in older patients carries risks. Use of antipsychotics may result in higher rates of morbidity and mortality related to cardiovascular, metabolic, and infectious etiologies. Some literature recommends the use of antipsychotics for OABD; however, the potential benefits must outweigh the risks.6 Monotherapy followed by combination therapy has demonstrated effectiveness in OABD.11 Because symptoms of OABD are often less severe, it may be best to avoid maintenance antipsychotic therapy when possible. With a higher prevalence of depressed mood following manic episodes, use of antidepressant therapy is common in OABD.6 ECT should be considered for patients with treatment-refractory BD.11

Lessons from our case series

Our case series included 3 patients with OABD. These patients’ comorbid conditions included hypertension, hypercholesteremia, and diabetes mellitus. Two patients had a history of cancer, but there was no metastasis to the brain in either case. However, we considered the possibility of structural changes in the brain or cognitive impairment secondary to cancer or its treatment. A literature review confirmed that adult patients treated for noncentral nervous system cancer experienced cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI).12 New research suggests that CRCI could be related to altered neuronal integrity along with a disturbance of brain structure networks that process and integrate information.13

We used the YMRS to compare symptom severity and treatment response (Figure 4). Two patients were treated with atypical antipsychotics with a mood stabilizer, and the third patient was prescribed an antipsychotic only. We avoided lithium and carbamazepine as mood stabilizers due to their adverse effect profiles and potential for drug–drug interactions. Each patient responded well to treatment without adverse events.

Case series patients: Improvement in Young Mania Rating Scale scores

Future studies are needed to clearly define the safest and most effective treatment guidelines in patients with OABD. We believe that OABD may require the development of a unique treatment algorithm due to the high likelihood of medical comorbidity and age-related variations in treatment response.

Continue to: Etiology of OABD may be different

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