The Korean Medication Algorithm Project for Bipolar Disorder (KMAP-BP) is based on expert consensus and has been revised five times since 2002. The present study evaluated the changes in treatment strategies advocated by the KMAP-BP over time.
The five editions of the KMAP-BP were reviewed, and the recommendations of the KMAP-BP were compared with those of other bipolar disorder (BP) treatment guidelines.
The most preferred option for the initial treatment of mania was a combination of a mood stabilizer (MS) and an atypical antipsychotic (AAP). Either MS or AAP monotherapy was also considered a first-line strategy for mania, but not for all types of episodes, including mixed/psychotic mania. In general, although lithium and valproic acid were commonly recommended, valproic acid has been increasingly preferred for all phases of BP. The most notable changes over time included the increasing preference for AAPs for all phases of BP, and lamotrigine for the depressive and maintenance phases. The use of antidepressants for BP has gradually decreased, but still represents a first-line option for severe and psychotic depression.
In general, the recommended strategies of the KMAP-BP were similar to those of other guidelines, but differed in terms of the emphasis on rapid effectiveness, which is often desirable in actual clinical situations. The major limitation of the KMAP-BP is that it is a consensus-based rather than an evidence-based tool. Nevertheless, it may confer advantages in actual clinical practice.

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