Role of the primary care physician in bipolar disorder
Tylee A., Goodwin GM.
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness characterised by recurrent episodes of manic and depressive moods that can each last weeks or months. The symptoms of bipolar disorder typically reduce opportunities for employment and education, adversely affect finances and relationships, and produce a markedly elevated risk for suicide. As discussed in this paper, primary care physicians (PCPs) have a unique and wide-ranging role in the care of patients with bipolar disorder because PCPs frequently are the first to identify patients with bipolar disorder and to refer them to specialist mental health services. Following establishment of a care plan, PCPs may be the only healthcare professionals in regular contact with patients during their long-term care, particularly in terms of monitoring their wider healthcare needs. A number of guidelines have been produced to better inform healthcare professionals on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with bipolar disorder. This article reviews current understanding of the optimal management of bipolar disorder based on recent research and guidelines, with particular reference to the diverse role of PCPs. © 2006 Radcliffe Publishing.