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Use of antipsychotic drugs and lithium in mania

  • John Cookson (a1)

Studies highlighting the difficulties associated with lithium suggest that the role of antipsychotic drugs and mood stabilisers in bipolar disorder should be reconsidered.


To review the efficacy and mode of action of antipsychotic drugs in mania, and to consider the differences between official guidelines and routine clinical practice in the use of these agents for mania.


Review of research, guideline- and practice-based literature.


Guidelines recommend lithium or valproate as first-line treatments for mania, and antipsychotic agents only as ‘adjuncts’ for agitation, dangerous behaviour or psychosis. However, in routine practice, antipsychotic drugs are often prescribed. The effectiveness of these agents in mania has been established by several studies; newer atypical compounds demonstrate antimanic efficacy with a reduced incidence of neurological side-effects.


Antipsychotic drugs are important in the treatment of bipolar disorder and mania. Future studies should evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of newer atypical antipsychotic agents, and the place of anticonvulsants in combination with antipsychotics in bipolar disorder.

Corresponding author
Dr John Cookson, The Royal London Hospital, St Clement's, 2a Bow Road, London E3 4LL, UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 7377 7957; fax: +44 (0)20 7377 7963; e-mail:
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Declaration of interest

J. C. has lectured and been a member of advisory panels for Janssen, Eli Lilly and Glaxo Wellcome. He has also run funded trials of risperidone, olanzapine and lamotrigine.

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Use of antipsychotic drugs and lithium in mania

  • John Cookson (a1)
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