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Annu Rev Med. 1999;50:453-68.

Natural history and preventative treatment of recurrent mood disorders.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 15213-2593, USA.


This chapter focuses on recent developments in our understanding of the etiology, epidemiology, and treatment of recurrent mood disorders. It addresses the changing relationship between endogenous and exogenous factors over time in the etiology of mood episodes. In the area of epidemiology, the chapter presents new information on the prevalence of various subtypes and male/female differences in lifetime risk. Complications of the mood disorders, such as suicide, and important comorbidities, including alcoholism and substance abuse, are discussed. In the area of treatment, the life-long nature of many of the mood disorders is described, as is the consequent role of the primary care physician in their management. The evidence for the efficacy of the depression-specific psychotherapies, cognitive therapy and interpersonal therapy, is reviewed. Current issues in the pharmacotherapy of mood disorders are discussed, including the relative efficacy of the older antidepressants versus the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the treatment of various subtypes of mood disorders, including dysthymia, chronic depression, and atypical depression. Finally, the chapter describes recent advances in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

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