Course and outcome following a first episode of mania: four-year prospective data from the Systematic Treatment Optimization Program (STOP-EM)

J Affect Disord. 2015 Apr 1:175:411-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.01.032. Epub 2015 Jan 22.


Background: First episode mania (FEM) cohorts provide an opportunity to identify windows for intervention to potentially alter the course of bipolar disorder (BD). Despite several efforts to prospectively characterize first episode patients, follow-up of such cohorts has seldom exceeded 1 year. We present 4-year outcomes from the STOP-EM FEM cohort.

Method: Of 101 identified FEM patients, 81 had longitudinal follow-up. Clinical evaluations including substance misuse, sociodemographics and family history were characterized using semi-structured instruments. Clinical reassessments occurred every 6 months.

Results: Within one year, all patients had remitted and 95% recovered. Recurrence following remission occurred in 58% of patients by 1 year and 74% by 4 years (60% depressive, 28% manic and 12% hypomanic). Recurrence within one year was associated with a higher rate of recurrence thereafter. Older age was associated with a shorter time to remission. Substance misuse was associated with delayed recovery and earlier recurrence.

Limitations: This prospective multiwave longitudinal design employed may be limited by the assessment schedule and associated recall bias. The influences of attrition of this sample should be considered when attempting to generalize our findings.

Conclusions: Best practices in FEM result in remission and recovery. While recurrence is common, minimizing recurrence within the first year through risk factor modification may alter the course of the BD.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; First episode mania; Prospective cohort; Recovery; Recurrence; Remission.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy
  • Disease Progression*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction
  • Young Adult