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Treatment recommendations for DSM-5–defined mixed features

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


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) mixed features specifier provides a less restrictive definition of mixed mood states, compared to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), including mood episodes that manifest with subthreshold symptoms of the opposite mood state. A limited number of studies have assessed the efficacy of treatments specifically for DSM-5–defined mixed features in mood disorders. As such, there is currently an inadequate amount of data to appropriately inform evidence-based treatment guidelines of DSM-5 defined mixed features. However, given the high prevalence and morbidity of mixed features, treatment recommendations based on the currently available evidence along with expert opinion may be of benefit. This article serves to provide these interim treatment recommendations while humbly acknowledging the limited amount of evidence currently available. Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) appear to have the greatest promise in the treatment of bipolar disorder (BD) with mixed features. Conventional mood stabilizing agents (ie, lithium and divalproex) may also be of benefit; however, they have been inadequately studied. In the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) with mixed features, the comparable efficacy of antidepressants versus other treatments, such as SGAs, remains unknown. As such, antidepressants remain first-line treatment of MDD with or without mixed features; however, there are significant safety concerns associated with antidepressant monotherapy when mixed features are present, which merits increased monitoring. Lurasidone is the only SGA monotherapy that has been shown to be efficacious specifically in the treatment of MDD with mixed features. Further research is needed to accurately determine the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of treatments specifically for mood episodes with mixed features to adequately inform future treatment guidelines.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Roger S. McIntyre, MD, 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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