Bipolar disordersHead: Dr. E. Severus
Bipolar disorders belong to the group of affective disorders and are characterised by a mostly chronic course with repeated occurrence of episodes of variable polarity (manic/hypomanic/mixed or depressive).
Furthermore, a substantial proportion of patients with bipolar disorder have cognitive deficits not only during their affective episodes, but also between episodes. These cognitive deficits are associated with a poor prognosis for the psychosocial level of functioning but so far are hardly accessible to therapeutic interventions because of the inadequate knowledge about their aetiology.
The life prevalence of bipolar disorders is between 2% and 5%, with an even distribution between the sexes. Psychiatric (anxiety disorders, dependence disorders) and also somatic comorbidities (cardiovascular diseases) are common and these comorbidities, together with the higher risk for suicide, decrease the average life expectancy by several years.
Drug treatment is the main pillar of acute and long-term treatment of bipolar disorders, whereby lithium remains the reference substance in the latter indication, although its clinical use is partially limited by side effects that cause subjective impairment.