Bipolar disorder – Primary health management (adults 2 of 3)


Bipolar disorders are recurrent, chronic mood disorders characterised by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression that affect about 1% of Australians.

There are several types (bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorders) and presentations (for example, mixed episodes, rapid cycling). Early diagnosis is difficult, and misdiagnosis is common, which can result in suboptimal management and adverse outcomes for the patient.

Effective management of bipolar disorders in adults requires treatment of acute episodes and ongoing relapse prevention, which is also referred as prophylaxis.

Individualised long-term management plans include prophylactic medication, psychosocial therapies, risk management, and careful monitoring for treatment-related complications. Management usually occurs in a shared-care arrangement between primary health care and specialist mental health services.

There are 3 modules in this course:

  • Module 1, covers the various types, presentations, and components of bipolar disease, and the assessment required for diagnosis in adults.
  • This module, Module 2 covers the management of bipolar disorders in adults and is designed for primary health care practitioners.
  • The last and third module discusses the characteristics of the pharmacological treatment used in bipolar disorders in adults.
Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Discuss the complexities of managing bipolar disorder.
  • Identify medications suitable for acute manic and depressive episodes of bipolar disorders.
  • Identify medications suitable for prophylaxis of bipolar disorders.
  • Explain the use of adjunct therapies in the management of bipolar disorders.

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