Background: Since treatment approaches thought to be useful for mania are presumably suitable for hypomania as well, little systematic research has been done on the treatment of hypomanic episodes and their long-term outcome. As systematic trials have shown that the atypical antipsychotic risperidone may be effective and safe in the treatment of acute mania, we decided to conduct an open-label study of its effectiveness and tolerability in hypomania associated with bipolar II.
Methods: Forty-four DSM-IV bipolar II patients with Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) scores above 7 were included and followed-up for 6 months. Efficacy was measured by means of the YMRS and the Clinical Global Impression for Bipolar Disorder (CGI-BD). Treatment-emergent depression was measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17), and the Udvalg for Kliniske Undersøgelser (UKU) subscale was used for neurological/extrapyramidal side-effects.
Results: Thirty-four patients completed the trial. The mean dose of risperidone at endpoint was 2.8 mg/day. Last observation-carried-forward analysis showed significant reduction of YMRS scores from the first week of treatment, which continued until the endpoint (P<0.0001). At 6-month follow-up, 60% of patients were assymptomatic according to the CGI. The 32% who received risperidone in monotherapy seemed to respond equally well. Risperidone, as used in this study, appeared to be most protective against hypomanic than depressive recurrences. Nine patients (12%) had a depressive relapse during 6-month follow-up, one patient (2%) had an hypomanic relapse and another (2%) had both. No patients developed tardive dyskinesia during the duration of the study. Although most patients received risperidone in combination with standard mood-stabilizers, only three patients discontinued risperidone because of other side-effects.
Limitations: In the absence of a placebo arm, it is uncertain to what extent the foregoing results could be ascribed to spontaneous remission of bipolar II disorder.
Conclusions: Risperidone, either in combination with mood-stabilizers or alone was well-tolerated in bipolar II patients, who presented in a hypomanic state, and appeared efficacious. Further controlled research on the role of atypical antipsychotics in the treatment of less-than-manic forms of bipolar illness is warranted.