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Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2016 May 31;14(2):117-30. doi: 10.9758/cpn.2016.14.2.117.

Staging Models in Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review of the Literature.

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Department of Psychiatry, Islamic International Medical College, Riphah International University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.


Bipolar disorder is manifested as severe dysregulation of mood with recurrent manic and major depressive episodes. It is associated with psychiatric and medical comorbidities, inadequate response to currently available pharmacological agents and a progressively deteriorating course in many patients. The index episode is often depressive in nature, while the first manic or hypomanic episode may occur several years later in the course of the disorder causing delay in diagnosis and use of inappropriate treatment strategies. Staging has been used to great advantage in other branches of medicine like cardiology and oncology. There is growing realization that major mental disorders are fundamentally progressive, with simpler treatment requirements and better prognosis during initial stages of the illness. Defining these conditions into clinically applicable stages not only helps in better understanding the trajectory of a particular disorder, but also assists in management. Patients with a chronic, recalcitrant condition like bipolar disorder are likely to greatly benefit from this approach. If the illness is correctly identified early in its course, proper treatment can be instigated arresting progression to latter phases which are associated with myriad complications in the biopsychosocial realm. With these considerations, a search of the MEDLINE data base was conducted to seek out literature pertaining to staging models in bipolar disorder. A thorough scrutiny of the existing research work revealed that a number of investigators have endeavored to stage define bipolar disorder. This paper outlines staging proposals for bipolar disorder which have the greatest supporting evidence in the literature.


Allostatic load; Biomarkers; Bipolar disorder; Neuroprogression; Staging

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