Introduction: In patients with bipolar disorder, relapse and recurrence from the premature discontinuation of pharmacotherapy are serious clinical problems. Thus, clinicians must make every effort to ensure the sufficient duration of continual treatment even after the remission of acute episodes. Here, we examine whether there is any association between benzodiazepine (BZD) use and the duration of follow-up treatment in patients with bipolar disorder.
Methods: The medical records of 70 bipolar patients hospitalized in a university hospital psychiatry ward were reviewed. Selected demographic and clinical variables, such as extent of BZD use and the total duration of outpatient follow-up treatment, were compared.
Results: The duration of maintenance treatment at the outpatient department differed significantly between patients who were or were not given BZDs during admission (571 vs. 179 days) and after discharge (836 vs. 154 days). The variables that differed significantly between patients who received follow-up treatment for 6 or more months and those who did not was the number of days of BZD administration during admission (11 vs. 5 days) and after discharge (280 vs. 7 days), and years of education (11 vs. 13 years).
Conclusion: In the present study, BZDs are suggested as a possible adjunctive therapy for extending follow-up and thus preventing recurrence in patients with bipolar disorder.