Pharmacotherapy is the centrepiece of management for bipolar disorder. GPs have an important role in caring for patients with this chronic condition, particularly during the maintenance phase.
Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) is a chronic, recurrent illness with a peak onset in early adulthood. It is characterised by episodes of depression and either mania (bipolar I disorder) or hypomania (bipolar II disorder); psychotic features may or may not be present. Diagnostic criteria are outlined in Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fourth edition.1 Hypomania is often overlooked, leading to a high rate of misdiagnosis of bipolar II
disorder as recurrent depression.