There are obvious gaps in research surrounding issues specific to women who suffer from bipolar disorder, including gender differences and their implications for management, the impact of the reproductive cycle, and evidence based treatment guidelines for pregnancy and the postpartum period. Gender differences have not been reported for the prevalence of bipolar disorder; however, women are more likely to experience rapid cycling, mixed mania, and antidepressant-induced manias. This may affect response to treatment, which has been found, in some cases, to differ in men and women. In addition, side effects in response to treatments may well differ in men and women, especially with regard to lithium and valproate prescription. The course of bipolar disorder in women may be influenced by the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and menopause, although many issues require further clarification. Treatment of bipolar disorder during pregnancy and the postmenopausal period requires careful consideration, as does treatment during the childbearing years, as some mood stabilizers influence the metabolism of oral contraceptives. This review article has attempted to evaluate existing literature regarding women with bipolar disorder in a comprehensive and critical way, and to consolidate into a single source the gender-specific aspects of the disorder that may have treatment implications for women.
View details for Web of Science ID 000188809800001
View details for PubMedID 14996136