Fast Five Quiz: Bipolar Disorder With Agitation

W. Clay Jackson, MD, DipTh; Heidi Moawad, MD


February 23, 2023

Patients with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk for co-occurring psychiatric conditions, such as substance abuse disorder, that may trigger or exacerbate agitation. To prevent delays in treatment, it is important to rule out underlying medical conditions. Ideally occurring at the same time as de-escalation, the initial assessment should be rapid with limited disruption to the environment. Obtaining pertinent information from the patient, care partners, and medical documents regarding comorbidities, trauma, substance abuse, environmental toxins, and infection may help to make a correct diagnosis.

Standardized screening protocols can help for quick decision-making. If medical illnesses have not been identified, the patient may be referred for psychiatric treatment. In appropriate cases, agitation in patients with bipolar can be managed without admission; de-escalation strategies can be helpful.

If agitation reaches the level of severity that requires pharmacologic treatment, further evaluation may be resumed once the appropriate safety measures have been observed.

Learn more about agitation in bipolar disorder.


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