Psychopharmacological Treatment Algorithms of Manic/Mixed and Depressed Episodes in Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2022 Dec;32(10):507-521. doi: 10.1089/cap.2022.0035. Epub 2022 Dec 2.


Introduction: Pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) is a severe psychiatric illness diagnosed before the age of 18, which is associated with extreme shifts in mood characterized by manic and depressive episodes. In 2005, AACAP published algorithms to guide pharmacological treatment of manic/mixed episodes associated with PBD. At that time, lithium was the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatment for pediatric bipolar manic/mixed episodes. The goal of this article is to review evidence that has emerged since the AACAP algorithm in 2005. Methods: Literature searches were conducted through PubMed and limited to studies published between 2005 and 2021, using keywords that focused on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for available psychopharmacological medications. In addition, the authors conducted in-depth searches for articles providing evidence for agents included in the 2005 AACAP algorithm. Results: Since the publication of the AACAP algorithm in 2005, multiple RCTs have been conducted in PBD, leading to FDA approval of five medications (aripiprazole, asenapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone) for the treatment of manic/mixed episodes and two medications (lurasidone and olanzapine-fluoxetine combination) for the treatment of depressed episodes. Divalproex sodium and oxcarbazepine were studied in pediatric RCTs and failed to separate from placebo. Conclusions: We offer an update to the 2005 AACAP algorithms for the treatment of pediatric bipolar mixed/manic episodes and added an evidence-based algorithm for the treatment of depression in PBD. In addition to treatment algorithms, we review current evidence for efficacy of agents proposed in the AACAP algorithm and provide tables summarizing medication side effects and efficacy.

Keywords: bipolar depression; bipolar disorder; mania; mood disorders; pediatrics; psychopharmacology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Antipsychotic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Bipolar Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Mania / drug therapy
  • Olanzapine / therapeutic use


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Olanzapine