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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 658-659
Factors influencing treatment outcome in bipolar disorder

Department of Psychiatry, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (Deemed-to-be University), Puducherry, India

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Date of Web Publication5-Nov-2019

How to cite this article:
Subramanian K, Saldanha NC. Factors influencing treatment outcome in bipolar disorder. Indian J Psychiatry 2019;61:658-9

How to cite this URL:
Subramanian K, Saldanha NC. Factors influencing treatment outcome in bipolar disorder. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Mar 30];61:658-9. Available from:


We have read with great interest the paper titled, “Identification of factors affecting treatment outcome in bipolar disorder” by Vedanarayanan et al.[1] published recently in your journal. The article becomes timely when there is accruing research in the field of bipolar disorder (BD) course and outcome in our region.[2],[3] Identification of factors influencing treatment outcomes is a step ahead in enhancing the recovery and functioning of a patient suffering from BD.

While the paper deserves merit for incorporating a longitudinal study design in analyzing factors influencing treatment outcome, certain aspects of the paper need to be analyzed critically to replicate and expand the current research. The authors have included BD patients of various types (BD-I, BD-II, with mixed features and cyclothymia), who were in clinical remission during enrolment into the study, and assessed the improvement in clinical symptoms after 6 months from the index visit. The authors' efforts in defining early onset and treatment delay in BD were quite informative in this paper. Although information on subtypes of BD was provided, systematic assessment of comorbid psychotic symptoms during the present mood episode and retrospective evaluation of psychiatric comorbidities seems lacking. Studies have shown that the BD tends to have frequent psychiatric comorbidities, especially anxiety disorders.[4] Mood episodes with psychotic symptoms and comorbid anxiety symptoms tend to influence poor outcomes in BD.[4] The authors have recorded the age at which BD was diagnosed albeit the age at onset (AAO) of the illness. Such data on the AAO of BD in the entire study sample (not restricted to early-onset cohort alone) would enable one to assess for the effect of AAO on treatment outcomes.

The clinical remission criteria as set by authors (Young Mania Rating Scale score [YMRS] <12) seems to be more inclusive than that recommended by the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Task Force Recommendations (YMRS <8 or <5). Hence, selection bias is quite possible. The authors have assessed for outcome after the end of the index episode. However, utilization of composite yet specific instruments such as the Clinical Global Impressions-bipolar would have ascertained the outcome for the entire illness duration and not restricting to one episode. Terms such as treatment noncompliance were assessed without definition or grades. Formats such as self-report scales and pill count are quite commonly used in BD research.[5]

Under results, though the factors such as early onset and treatment delay emerged as significant predictors of poor outcome in the study sample, their wide confidence intervals warrant further repetition to validate such claims. The authors have identified that remission rates are most frequent with one group of psychotropics (lithium salts, in this study). However, information on differential compliance rates across all the psychotropic classes (lithium salts, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics) needs to be provided before arriving at such conclusions. The discussion on bidirectional link between BD and medical comorbidities, functional recovery of BD patients, genetic underpinnings (penetrance) in BD, and reasons for noncompliance seems detached from the context of the study's objectives and observed results.

The lines on how BD leads to mental retardation (in the “introduction” part) are bound to misguide the readership. The use of an older version of diagnostic statistical manual for mental disorders, the lack of systematic inclusion or exclusion of psychiatric comorbidities, especially anxiety disorders, and the lack of systematic assessment of drug compliance are some of the additional limitations of the paper. Nevertheless, the present study has paved a way for further research in unexplored areas such as outcome aspects of BD in India.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Vedanarayanan L, Munoli R, Thunga G, Nair S, Poojari P, Kunhikatta V. Identification of factors affecting treatment outcome in bipolar disorder. Indian J Psychiatry 2019;61:22-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Karthick S, Kattimani S, Rajkumar RP, Bharadwaj B, Sarkar S. Long term course of bipolar I disorder in India: Using retrospective life chart method. J Affect Disord 2015;173:255-60.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kulkarni KR, Reddy PV, Purty A, Arumugham SS, Muralidharan K, Reddy YJ, et al. Course and naturalistic treatment seeking among persons with first episode mania in India: A retrospective chart review with up to five years follow-up. J Affect Disord 2018;240:183-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Spoorthy MS, Chakrabarti S, Grover S. Comorbidity of bipolar and anxiety disorders: An overview of trends in research. World J Psychiatry 2019;9:7-29.  Back to cited text no. 4
Velligan DI, Weiden PJ, Sajatovic M, Scott J, Carpenter D, Ross R, et al. Assessment of adherence problems in patients with serious and persistent mental illness: Recommendations from the expert consensus guidelines. J Psychiatr Pract 2010;16:34-45.  Back to cited text no. 5

Correspondence Address:
Karthick Subramanian
Department of Psychiatry, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (Deemed-to-be University), Puducherry
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_57_19

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