Korean J Psychopharmacol.  2006 Nov;17(6):538-549.

Medication Prescription Pattern for Outpatients with Bipolar Disorder: Focusing on Atypical Antipsychotics

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea. wmbahk@catholic.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Neuropsychiatry, College of Medicine, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Anyang, Korea.
  • 5Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 6Naju National Hospital, Naju, Korea.


In the last decade, a number of pharmacological agents have shown efficacy in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Traditionally, lithium has been considered as the treatment of choice of bipolar disorder. However, more recently, atypical antipsychotics and newly developed anticonvulsants have become increasingly popular alternatives to lithium. This study examined the prescribing patterns for medications to treat bipolar disorder in office-based psychiatric practice.
The data for the present study were collected by using structured record form from November 2005 to December 2005. Psychotropic medications were grouped into six categories ; atypical antipsychotics, typical antipsychotics, lithium, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and minor tranquilizers. Prescription data of 700 cases with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder according to DSM-IV from 70 Korean psychiatrists were accessed. Severity, mood episode, psychiatric comorbidity and point of diagnosis related utilization rates were computed focusing on atypical antipsychotics.
In 695 patients who were prescribed major psychotropic medications, atypical antipsychotics were prescribed in 62.4% of subjects, anticonvulsants in 58.7%, lithium in 47.8%, antidepressants in 17.6%, and typical antipsychotics in 15.5% of subjects. About seventeen percent of subjects were treated with the monotherapy. Atypical antipsychotics prescription was favored in subjects with manic and mixed episodes or severe episode. Lithium and typical antipsychotics prescription were less frequent in depressive subjects than subjects with other mood episodes. Prescription of atypical antipsychotics and antidepressants were more frequent in subjects who were recently diagnosed as bipolar disorder or prescribed new medications.
The rapid progress of psychopharmacology has been reflected in the prescription pattern of psychotropic medications in Korea. This study suggests that atypical antipsychotics have played major role in treatment of bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder; Prescription pattern; Atypical antipsychotics
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