Bipolar disorder is a severe mental illness affecting emotional stability, physical health, and quality of life. In a previous study, we identified medications associated with remission in patients with bipolar disorder. The objective of the current study was to determine the status of the patients after 3 additional years, as well as the medications associated with remission.
Data were extracted from clinical records. The criteria for remission in both the original study and the follow-up were 12 continuous months of euthymia, mild symptoms, and no clinical relapse. Active illness was defined as <12 months of remission. Statistical comparisons were made between the remitted and active illness groups on demographics and medication regimens.
The original study contained 121 patients, 52 of whom were available for follow-up. Of the 121 patients from the original study, 53 (43.8%) were remitted for at least 12 months. Follow-up data were available for 19 of those patients, 15 of whom continued in remission while 4 relapsed. Of the 68 patients who were still ill at the end of the first study, follow-up data were available for 33 patients, 18 of whom had achieved remission at the time of follow-up while 15 continued to be ill. Remitted patients were more likely to be receiving a mood stabilizer (P=0.022) or a combination of a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant (P=0.004).
On the basis of our results, mood stabilizers and antidepressants were associated with remission in long-term follow-up. Remission may ultimately be possible for many patients who did not succeed initially.