August 20, 2007

Antioxidants Being Studied as Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Clinical Psychiatry News featured an article outlining the research of Dr. Michael Berk, which was presented at the Seventh International Conference on Bipolar Disorder. Dr. Berk focuses on possible treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia with antioxidants. The article is heavy on brain chemistry terms and theory, but still a good read about an exciting possible new treatment.

This research is motivated by the studies that suggest oxidative stress plays a role in both of the disorders and they even show deficits of certain antioxidant enzymes. Glutathione, specifically, acts as a defense against oxidative damage and is connected to the effectiveness of lithium and valproate (depakote) - the two most commonly prescribed drugs for treatment of bipolar disorder. Dr. Berk has focused his research on its possible use for treating bipolar disorder.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC), is a precursor of glutathione - which means its a compound that participates in the chemical reaction to produce glutathione, and its presence is necessary for glutathione to be created in the body. It's currently approved for treatment of overdoses of acetaminophen (Tylenol).

The article outlines Berk's small study on NAC and bipolar disorder, where they found that those in the participants receiving NAC showed significant improvements in a variety of areas; depression, mania, and overall functioning.

Some downsides of NAC are it takes very long to feel an effect, and the research supporting its use for bipolar disorder is preliminary. The drug however is available and FDA approved for other uses, which can speed up the process for researching its potential in the psychiatric field. Dr. Berk says, "Nonetheless, we are encouraged by these data, and we hope it will be a fruitful foundation for further study".

Read Full Article:
Antioxidants Studied for Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia
Clinical Psychiatry News By: Miriam Tucker

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