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Treatment of mixed features in bipolar disorder

  • Joshua D. Rosenblat (a1) and Roger S. McIntyre (a1)


Mood episodes with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)–defined mixed features are highly prevalent in bipolar disorder (BD), affecting ~40% of patients during the course of illness. Mixed states are associated with poorer clinical outcomes, greater treatment resistance, higher rates of comorbidity, more frequent mood episodes, and increased rates of suicide. The objectives of the current review are to identify, summarize, and synthesize studies assessing the efficacy of treatments specifically for BD I and II mood episodes (ie, including manic, hypomanic, and major depressive episodes) with DSM-5–defined mixed features. Two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 6 post-hoc analyses were identified, all of which assessed the efficacy of second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) for the acute treatment of BD mood episodes with mixed features. Results from these studies provide preliminary support for SGAs as efficacious treatments for both mania with mixed features and bipolar depression with mixed features. However, there are inadequate data to definitively support or refute the clinical use of specific agents. Conventional mood stabilizing agents (eg, lithium and divalproex) have yet to have been adequately studied in DSM-5–defined mixed features. Further study is required to assess the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of treatments specifically for BD mood episodes with mixed features.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Roger S. McIntyre, M.D., FRCPC, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, University of Toronto, Head, Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit, University Health Network, 399 Bathurst Street, MP 9-325, Toronto, ON M5T 2S8, Canada. (Email:


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CNS Spectrums
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