Introduction: This prospective open-label study assessed the impact of add-on quetiapine in the treatment of rapid cycling bipolar patients.
Methods: Fourteen rapid cycling bipolar patients were treated with quetiapine, which was added to their ongoing medication regimen for 112 +/- 33 days. At the beginning of the study, five were manic, three were in a mixed state, three were depressed, two hypomanic and one was euthymic. Patients were assessed prospectively with a modified version of the Clinical Global Impression Scale for Bipolars (CGI-BP), the Young Scale for mania (YMRS) and the Hamilton Scale for Depression (HDRS).
Results: A significant reduction of the following scale scores was observed: a 1.8 point reduction for the general CGI-BP (p = 0.013), a -1.3 point for the mania subscale (p = 0.016), a -1.01 point for the YMRS (p = 0.025). Improvement in depressive symptoms was not significant, neither in the CGI-BP (-1 point, p = 0.074) nor in the HDRS (-5.2 points, p = NS). The most common side-effect was sedation (n = 6, 43%). Doses of quetiapine were significantly reduced by the end of the study (443 +/- 235 mg/day versus 268 +/- 190 mg/day, p = 0.008) and they also differed according to the initial episode to be treated (720 +/- 84 mg/day for mania, and 183 +/- 29 mg/day for depression, p = 0.023).
Conclusions: Quetiapine could possibly be an effective treatment for rapid cycling bipolar patients. Adequate doses for acute episodes could significantly differ according to the episode polarity and the length of treatment.