The effects of pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment of comorbid anxiety disorders in patients with bipolar disorder
background The co-occurrence of bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder is associated with a worse prognosis. Clinical guidelines do not give clear therapeutic recommendations on this subject.
aim To review the evidence on the effectiveness of both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders in patients with a bipolar disorder.
method A systematic search in PubMed, Embase, Cochrane en Psycinfo and subsequent screening of potential studies resulted in 11 included studies.
results Five studies examined the effect of pharmacotherapy on treatment of comorbid anxiety disorders. One of these studies showed that both olanzapine and lamotrigine provided positive results in treating the anxiety disorders, with olanzapine being the more effective of the two. Conflicting results were found for quetiapine and valproic acid. The conclusion of one study was that risperidone was not effective. No studies were found researching the effect of psychotherapy on treatment of comorbid anxiety disorders. However, two case studies and four studies that included patients with mixed diagnoses, including bipolar disorder, proposed evidence that behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy (cbt) had a positive effect on treatment of the comorbid anxiety disorder.
conclusion There is little evidence on the treatment of comorbid anxiety disorders in people with bipolar disorder. Psychotherapy is preferred due to the uncertainty of the effects of pharmacotherapy and the associated risk of causing side effects. Pharmacotherapy can be considered in cases where this is insufficiently effective.