What Are the Odds of Outpatient Treatment Being Successful?
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Q:  What Are the Odds of Outpatient Treatment Being Successful?

My daughter was diagnosed. with being bipolar and she also has epileptic seizures.  Last week she overdosed on pills in front of her children ages 6 and 12.  They had no bed available in the phys. ward so she's been released on outpatient therapy.  I have temporary custody of the children,  what are the odds of outpatient treatment being successful?  I'm at my wits end.  I was hoping this would be the chance for her to receive the help she needs only to be told not many places take her insurance, which is TriCare, her husband was in the service.


Dear KE

What are the odds that outpatient treatment of bipolar disorder, presuming that the diagnosis is correct, we will be "successful"?  Very high, depending on how you define "successful".

For example, suppose we were to ask how many people with this diagnosis will be symptom-free at the end of one year of treatment?  In one of the largest studies of this kind, the answer was about 33%, about one third of all the participants.

On the other hand, if we asked how many people will clearly have a response to treatment, even if it is not complete control of symptoms, the answer in that same study was about 75%, three quarters of the participants.  Unfortunately, there were about one quarter of the participants who did not get much better.  However, that study was done quite a while ago.  Many of the patients were on antidepressant medications, which have since been strongly implicated in keeping some people with bipolar disorder from getting better (although there is still a lot of controversy about this).  So I think those numbers are all low estimates of how much improvement is possible.

Dr. Phelps


Published May, 2009


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