The clinical characterization of the adult patient with bipolar disorder aimed at personalization of management

Roger S. McIntyre, Martin Alda, Ross J. Baldessarini, Michael Bauer, Michael Berk, Christoph U. Correll, Andrea Fagiolini, Kostas Fountoulakis, Mark A. Frye, Heinz Grunze, Lars V. Kessing, David J. Miklowitz, Gordon Parker, Robert M. Post, Alan C. Swann, Trisha Suppes, Eduard Vieta, Allan Young, Mario Maj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bipolar disorder is heterogeneous in phenomenology, illness trajectory, and response to treatment. Despite evidence for the efficacy of multimodal­ity interventions, the majority of persons affected by this disorder do not achieve and sustain full syndromal recovery. It is eagerly anticipated that combining datasets across various information sources (e.g., hierarchical “multi-omic” measures, electronic health records), analyzed using advanced computational methods (e.g., machine learning), will inform future diagnosis and treatment selection. In the interim, identifying clinically meaningful subgroups of persons with the disorder having differential response to specific treatments at point-of-care is an empirical priority. This paper endeavours to synthesize salient domains in the clinical characterization of the adult patient with bipolar disorder, with the overarching aim to improve health outcomes by informing patient management and treatment considerations. Extant data indicate that characterizing select domains in bipolar disorder provides actionable information and guides shared decision making. For example, it is robustly established that the presence of mixed features – especially during depressive episodes – and of physical and psychiatric comorbidities informs illness trajectory, response to treatment, and suicide risk. In addition, early environmental exposures (e.g., sexual and physical abuse, emotional neglect) are highly associated with more complicated illness presentations, inviting the need for developmentally-oriented and integrated treatment approaches. There have been significant advances in validating subtypes of bipolar disorder (e.g., bipolar I vs. II disorder), particularly in regard to pharmacological interventions. As with other severe mental disorders, social functioning, interpersonal/family relationships and internalized stigma are domains highly relevant to relapse risk, health outcomes, and quality of life. The elevated standardized mortality ratio for completed suicide and suicidal behaviour in bipolar disorder invites the need for characterization of this domain in all patients. The framework of this paper is to describe all the above salient domains, providing a synthesis of extant literature and recommendations for decision support tools and clinical metrics that can be implemented at point-of-care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-387
Number of pages24
JournalWorld Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Bipolar disorder
  • bipolar I disorder
  • bipolar II disorder
  • clinical characterization
  • cognition
  • comorbidity
  • depression
  • mania
  • mixed features
  • personalization
  • phenotyping
  • rapid cycling
  • resilience
  • social determinants
  • stigma
  • stressors
  • subtypes
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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