The Diagnosis & Treatment Of Bipolar Disorder: Decision-Making In Primary Care

Research Summary | February 17, 2017

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Key Messages

  • Most patients with bipolar disorder (BD) initially present in the primary care setting.
  • With a high clinical index of suspicion, and awareness of the key differentiating features of depressive symptoms in BD versus major depressive disorder (MDD), primary care physicians (PCPs) can help ensure accurate, early diagnosis, and help to optimize patient outcomes.
  • Key clinical decision-making steps include an in-depth patient interview detailing personal, family, and social history; the use of case-based finding tools; clinical confirmation of BD diagnosis via Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria; evaluation of risk to self or others; and referral when necessary.
  • Pharmacological and psychosocial treatments, patient education, and ongoing monitoring of symptoms, functioning, and treatment safety are important in the long-term management of BD.

The following is a summary of Culpepper L. The diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder: decision-making in primary care. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2014;16(3):doi:10.4088/PCC.13r01609, which was developed independently of the article author. Background For many patients with BD, PCPs are the first point of contact and play an essential role in the diagnosis and…

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