The first German-language guidelines for the management of bipolar disorder were published in 2012, and now, an abbreviated English translation is available online for free [link].
The German Society for Bipolar Disorder (DGBS) and the German Association for Psychiatry & Psychotherapy (DGPPN) set up a project group, a steering group and 6 working groups made up of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, patients and their families. Devoid of any industry funding, their intention was to provide “decision-making support for patients, their families, and therapists“. Following an extensive literature review, and ten consensus conferences they concluded:
“Bipolar disorder should be diagnosed as early as possible. The most extensive evidence is available for pharmacological monotherapy; there is little evidence for combination therapy, which is nonetheless commonly given. The appropriate treatment may include long-term maintenance treatment, if indicated. The treatment of mania should begin with one of the recommended mood stabilizers or antipsychotic drugs; the number needed to treat (NNT) is 3 to 13 for three weeks of treatment with lithium or atypical antipsychotic drugs. The treatment of bipolar depression should begin with quetiapine (NNT = 5 to 7 for eight weeks of treatment), unless the patient is already under mood-stabilizing treatment that can be optimized. Further options in the treatment of bipolar depression are the recommended mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotic drugs, and antidepressants. For maintenance treatment, lithium should be used preferentially (NNT = 14 for 12 months of treatment and 3 for 24 months of treatment), although other mood stabilizers or atypical antipsychotic drugs can be given as well. Psychotherapy (in addition to any pharmacological treatment) is recommended with the main goals of long-term stabilization, prevention of new episodes, and management of suicidality. In view of the current mental health care situation in Germany and the findings of studies from other countries, it is clear that there is a need for prompt access to need-based, complex and multimodal care structures. Patients and their families need to be adequately informed and should participate in psychiatric decision-making“.
The abridged guidelines (in English) are available here.