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Cognitive deficits have been reported during the early stages of bipolar disorder; however, the role of medication on such deficits remains unclear. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of lithium and quetiapine monotherapy on cognitive performance in people following first episode mania.
The design was a single-blind, randomised controlled trial on a cohort of 61 participants following first episode mania. Participants received either lithium or quetiapine monotherapy as maintenance treatment over a 12-month follow-up period. The groups were compared on performance outcomes using an extensive cognitive assessment battery conducted at baseline, month 3 and month 12 follow-up time-points.
There was a significant interaction between group and time in phonemic fluency at the 3-month and 12-month endpoints, reflecting greater improvements in performance in lithium-treated participants relative to quetiapine-treated participants. After controlling for multiple comparisons, there were no other significant interactions between group and time for other measures of cognition.
Although the effects of lithium and quetiapine treatment were similar for most cognitive domains, the findings imply that early initiation of lithium treatment may benefit the trajectory of cognition, specifically verbal fluency in young people with bipolar disorder. Given that cognition is a major symptomatic domain of bipolar disorder and has substantive effects on general functioning, the ability to influence the trajectory of cognitive change is of considerable clinical importance.
Treatment strategies for mental disorders may vary according to illness stage. However no data currently exist to guide treatment in first episode psychotic mania. The aim of this study was to compare the safety and efficacy profile of chlorpromazine and olanzapine, as add-on to lithium, in patients with a first episode of psychotic mania, expecting better safety profile and adherence to olanzapine but similar efficacy for both treatments.
Data from 83 patients were collected in an 8-week randomised controlled trial on clinical variables, side effects, vital signs, and weight. Analyses of treatment differences over time were based on intent-to-treat principles. Kaplan-Meier estimated survival curves were used to analyse time-to-event data and mixed effects models repeated measures analysis of variance were used to determine treatment group differences over time on safety and efficacy measures.
Ethics committee approval to delay informed consent procedure until recovery from the acute episode allowed the inclusion of 83 patients highly representative of those treated in the public sector. Contrary to our hypotheses, safety profile of both medications was similar. A signal for higher rate (P=.032) and earlier occurrence (P= .043) of mania remission was observed in the olanzapine group which did not survive correction for multiple comparisons.
Olanzapine and chlorpromazine have a similar safety profile in a uniquely representative cohort of patients with first episode psychotic mania. The possibility for a greater impact of olanzapine on manic symptoms leading to earlier remission of the episode needs exploration in a large sample.