The management of bipolar disorder in general practice
•General practitioners have a key role in managing patients with bipolar disorder, a condition which affects at least one in 200 Australians each year and is the sixth leading cause of disability in the population. • Although diagnosis and treatment of the illness is complex, effective treatment can lead to good outcomes for many patients. • GPs can contribute significantly to early recognition of bipolar disorder, avoiding the long delays in accurate diagnosis that have been reported. As in other complex recurrent or persistent illnesses, GPs are well placed to coordinate multidisciplinary "shared care" with specialists and other health care professionals. • GPs also provide continuing general medical care for patients with bipolar disorder, and are in a unique position to understand patients' life circumstances and to monitor their progress over time. • The last decade has seen many advances in medication for bipolar disorder, including the introduction of new therapies and the refinement of treatment protocols using older medications. There has also been increasing recognition of the contribution of psychological therapies to symptom relief, relapse prevention, optimal function, and quality of life.