Recurrence rates in stable bipolar disorder patients after drug discontinuation v. drug maintenance: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Taro Kishi, Yuki Matsuda, Kenji Sakuma, Makoto Okuya, Kazuo Mishima, Nakao Iwata

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background This random-effects model meta-analysis of double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trials compared recurrence rates in bipolar disorder (BD) patients between antipsychotic/mood stabilizer discontinuation and maintenance groups. Methods We conducted systematic literature search of Embase, PubMed, and CENTRAL databases without language restriction from inception until 22 May 2020. Independent investigators assessed studies and extracted data. We calculated risk ratios (RRs) and numbers needed to benefit or harm (NNTB/NNTH). Primary outcome was the recurrence rate of any mood episode at 6 months. Secondary outcomes were recurrence rates of depressive episodes and manic/hypomanic/mixed episodes and all-cause discontinuation at 6 months. We also investigated these outcomes at 1, 3, 9, 12, 18, and 24 months. Results We identified 22 studies (n = 5462) receiving aripiprazole, asenapine, divalproex, long-acting injectable (LAI)-aripiprazole, LAI-risperidone, lamotrigine, lithium, olanzapine, paliperidone, or quetiapine. Mean study duration was 64.50 ± 69.35 weeks. The maintenance group demonstrated lower recurrence rates of any mood episode, depressive episodes, and manic/hypomanic/mixed episodes as well as reduced all-cause discontinuation at every observational point. The RRs (95% confidence interval, NNTB/NNTH) of recurrence rate at 6 months were 0.61 (0.54-0.70, 5) for any mood episode, 0.72 (0.60-0.87, 13) for depressive episodes, and 0.45 (0.36-0.57, 6) for manic/hypomanic/mixed episodes. The RR for all-cause discontinuation at 6 months was 0.71 (0.61-0.82, 6). Conclusions Maintaining drug treatment during clinically stable BD prevented recurrence for up to 24 months. Discontinuation of medications for ≥1 month significantly increased recurrence risk. However, 47.3% of patients who discontinued drugs for 6 months did not experience recurrence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2721-2729
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 13-11-2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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