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June 29, 2005

Medicaid Restrictions Blamed Elsewhere

Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida has recieved a lot of criticism as of late for putting restrictions on Medicaid drug limits. Bush blames Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company for refusing to negotiate for fairer prices with Florida.

"Florida's efforts to cut the $2.5 billion Medicaid prescription-drug budget comes in a new law that gives health officials authority to negotiate for lower prices. The law gives them the power to drop drugs from the state's approved list of medications for the 2.2 million Medicaid patients if prices aren't lowered. A list of state-approved drugs for the Medicaid program, replacing the current list of about 3,000 medications, will be released by the state's panel of pharmacists and doctors Wednesday and will go into effect early next month if it is approved by AHCA" (Hollis, 2005).

Advocates for the mentally ill are worried that this could leave many people with mental disorders unable to get the medications needed to stay stable. Bush insists that there are adequate and cheaper medications that they could switch to. In other words, generics. Generic drugs are bioequivalent to the brand name drug and are required to have the same active ingredient at the same strength as the brand name drug. Not necessarily a bad thing unless the drug you are taking does not have a generic form. But most commonly used drugs do.

Patients can still get the drugs that are not on the preferred drug list if their doctors explicitly document the necessity for the patient to receive certain drugs. Then it will be prescribed and they will be reimbured for the purchase of the prescription.

To go to the Medicaid website go to: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medicaid/default.asp?

The source of this article was the Tallahassee Bureau, by Mark Hollis.

Posted by at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

Bipolar May Have Genetic Link to Alpha Thalassemias

The human chromosomes have given us clues as to why we get several of the illnesses and diseases that we get today. We are getting more clues about bipolar disorder and its genetic inheritance by looking at the afflictions that can often come with it. There may be a possible link between bipolar disorder and alpha thalassemias. Alpha thalassemias is an inability to make the amount of hemoglobin that the blood in the human body needs. This leads to a reduced production of red blood cells and an increased destruction of the cells. It can lead to anemia and in the most severe cases, death.

"Some genetic studies described the existence of possible genetic susceptibility for bipolar disorder on the short arm of chromosome 16, close to the gene involved in certain alpha-thalassemias, on the region 16p13.3. An interesting finding is that the sequencing of 258 kb of the chromosome region 16p13.3 not only allowed the identification of genes involved in the alpha-thalassemia and in the vulnerability to bipolar disorders, but also the identification of genes implicated in tuberous sclerosis, in polycystic kidney disease, in cataract with microophtalmia, and in vulnerability genetic factors for ATR-16 syndrome, asthma, epilepsy, certain forms of autism and mental retardation" (Damsa, et al.).

The area of the chromosome that could cause bipolar disorder is very close to the area that causes alpha thalassemias. If the link between them is valid then that means that those who have bipolar disorder have a higher chance of having alpha thalassemias. This link has not been validated yet so whether the two are truly related will be discovered only through future research studies.

The discovery of such a link could help us better understand the physiopathology of bipolar disorder. The discovery could even help at a therapeutic level.

For more information on Alpha Thalassemias go to: http://tinyurl.com/7j6h3

The source of this story was a research article called: Alpha-thalassemias and bipolar disorders: a genetic link? The authors were Damsa C, Borras L, Bianchi-Demicheli F, Andreoli A.
To see this article go to: http://tinyurl.com/7pj4t

Posted by at 11:11 AM | Comments (1)

Is Unipolar Part Bipolar?

Unipolar depression has long been looked at as a separate form of depression than bipolar disorder. But recent studies have shown that those who have unipolar depression often have symptoms that are more than just unipolar. Depending on the criteria used, some of those who have unipolar depression could be considered to have bipolar symptoms.

"Dr Angst and colleagues used three criteria for bipolar II, the DSM-IV (which mandates at least three hypomanic symptoms, four if irritable, over at lest four days), a "strict" Zurich criteria (which lowered the symptom threshold to three over one day) and a "broad" criteria which dropped the symptom requirement to two over one day. Using the DSM criteria yielded a finding of 7.4 percent bipolar IIs in a depressed population. On the Zurich strict criteria, the figure shot up to 23.7, and for the broad criteria – get ready – 49.2 percent. In other words, nearly half of a so-called unipolar population exhibited symptoms that were more than just unipolar" (McManamy, 2005).

Emil Kraepelin described mixed states and hypomania almost a century ago. Kraepelin also did not distinguish between unipolar and bipolar depression. At the Sixth International Conference on Bipolar Disorder this question was discussed and the validity of separating unipolar from bipolar was mentioned.

Different studies have confirmed that many people with unipolar depression have symptoms of bipolar disorder, which makes one wonder, how different are the two? Unipolar and bipolar depression are often "misdiagnosed." People who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder have in the past been misdiagnosed as unipolar, and those with unipolar depression were at one point thought to be bipolar. Despite these findings the next DSM will probably tighten the definition of bipolar disorder rather than broaden it. But who knows, we might see a Bipolar III disorder in the future.

The source of this article was McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web which you can reach at: http://www.mcmanweb.com/

Posted by at 10:15 AM | Comments (3)

Overdiagnosis among Minorities

A study of one of the nation's largest databases of psychiatric cases reveals that cultural factors may be contributing to a much higher rate of psychiatric diagnoses among ethnic minorities.

For example, scientist John Zeber found that blacks in the United States were more than four times as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, and Hispanics were more than three times as likely, despite the fact that schizophrenia appears to affect all ethnic groups at the same rate. Zeber reports that his findings could not be explained by differences in wealth, drug addiction, or tendency to seek treatment at different times during an illness course. "The only factor that was truly important was race," Zeber said.

The matter is not as simply as racism; cultural factors within ethnic communities may contribute to misdiagnoses. For example, explains Michael Smith, a psychiatrist at UCLA, "Some doctors think if you don't make eye contact, you can be diagnosed [with schizophrenia]. In some communities, eye contact is a sign of disrespect."

Darrel Regier, director of the division of research at the American Psychiatric Association, agrees. "I believe bias exists, and there is a risk a psychiatrist with a different cultural experience than a patient can misinterpret the expression of a psychiatric symptom...If you have a very religious group of patients and a very secular psychiatrist who thinks beliefs in spirits or hearing the voice of God is not normal, you are going to have misses."

Misdiagnosis can be dangerous in many ways - it may condemn someone to incorrect treatment for a condition they don't have, or it can cause someone to lose valuable years of their life due to incorrect, unhelpful treatment. You can help avoid misdiagnosis by being familiar with the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia (http://www.schizophrenia.com/diag.html) and bipolar disorder (http://www.moodswing.org/diagnosis.html#common), as well as ways in which these diseases are misdiagnosed most frequently. (http://www.schizophrenia.com/diag.html#misdiagnosis)

Source: "Racial Disparities Found in Pinpointing Mental Illness." Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com), June 28 2005.

Posted by julia.d at 9:05 AM | Comments (0)

Physical Health Needs Attention

According to the BBC, "experts believe poor physical care contributes towards a three times higher rate of premature death among those with severe mental problems." Specific statistics estimate that those with severe mental illness have five times the risk of diabetes, and twice the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, when compared to the general population

A lack of care for physical health, often manifest in lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and hygiene, puts this group at higher risk for disease and illness.

A proposed solution is a "holistic approach" to treatment plans of those with illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. A holistic treatment plan would include regular assessments of physical health, as well as strategies for improving physical health in daily life.

Says Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity SANE, "adopting a holistic approach would help to improve the overall health and daily lives of many people."

Source: "Mental health care 'not holistic' ". BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk), June 29 2005.

See complementary treatments that can help improve physical and mental health for people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. (http://www.schizophrenia.com/treatments.htm) Healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns are three factors that are relatively easy to implement, and can have a profound effect on health.

Posted by julia.d at 8:35 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2005

Seroquel Effective at Treating Bipolar Disorder

New information on Seroquel was presented at the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting in San Francisco that show it is effective at treating mania in those with bipolar disorder. Seroquel is more commonly used to treat schizophrenia.

The following information looks like it comes (either directly, or indirectly) from AstraZeneca's marketing department - so, as with any marketing material from any company, we think you should be skeptical of the information. It looks interesting, but all company marketing departments tend to highlight the positive points of their products, while avoiding mention of any possible negative aspects, and pharmaceutical companies are no different in this respect. The most reliable information is generally from independent sources (with no monetary ties to the medication), such as NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) – sponsored studies.

AstraZeneca today announced new data, presented at the 156th annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in San Francisco, which indicate that SEROQUEL (quetiapine) is effective, well tolerated and fast-acting when used as monotherapy for the treatment of mania associated with bipolar disorder.

"Today's results add to previous clinical studies that show SEROQUEL can provide relief of disease symptoms without the troublesome side effects sometimes associated with other treatments, making it an acceptable treatment for bipolar disorder, where patient compliance is paramount,” commented Bill Bastain, Vice President and Head, Neuroscience Therapy Area, AstraZeneca.

A pooled analysis of the data from two 12-week trials, which tested SEROQUEL monotherapy vs. placebo, showed that after three weeks, SEROQUEL achieved significantly greater improvements in the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) total score from baseline compared to the placebo group (-13.58 and –7.76, respectively, p<0.0001). In patients treated with SEROQUEL, a statistically significant improvement in YMRS total score was observed as early as day four (p=0.021) and at each subsequent time point until day 84 (p<0.001). SEROQUEL was also well tolerated by patients in the trials.

These results support a previous study, which showed that SEROQUEL, in combination with a mood stabiliser (lithium or divalproex), was significantly more effective than a mood stabiliser alone in treating bipolar mania. AstraZeneca announced its submission of a Supplemental New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2003 and to the 14 European Member States involved in the Mutual Recognition Procedure in February 2003, for SEROQUEL to be granted a license for the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness).

Bipolar Disorder affects approximately 3-4 per cent of the adult population and is ranked as the second leading cause of disability worldwide among the neuro-psychiatric disorders.

One of the issues faced by psychiatrists treating this condition are the problems associated with treatment compliance due to tolerability issues with some treatments. More than half of those with bipolar disorder stop taking their medication at some point during their lives, subjecting themselves to a high risk of relapse and an increased risk of suicide.

To go to the press release on the AstraZeneca website go to: http://www.astrazeneca.com/pressrelease/494.aspx

For the Seroquel website go to: http://www.seroquel.com/

Posted by at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)

VNS Therapy Approved in Europe

Cyberonics have received approval to start selling vagus nerve stimulation therapy (VNS) in the member countries of the European Union for treating epilepsy and depressive disorders. Bipolar disorder is one of the disorders that vagus nerve stimulation can treat.

In the United States, FDA agreed in December 2004 to review the Model 103/104 PMA-Supplement through the Real-Time Review process. Cyberonics anticipates submitting that PMA-Supplement within the next six months.

"Cyberonics is pleased to offer the next generation of VNS Generators to our epilepsy and depression customers in Europe," commented Robert P. ("Skip") Cummins, Cyberonics' Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. "We are also pleased that we now have approval for in-house sterilization of all VNS products except the Model 103 and 104 Generators in Europe. We anticipate submitting an application to KEMA for European approval of the in-house sterilization process for those generators in the near future and we anticipate that we will submit the PMA-Supplements seeking FDA approval of the Models 103 and 104 Generators and in-house hydrogen peroxide sterilization of all VNS Generators within six months of FDA's final TRD approval decision.

"The VNS Therapy System has been available in Europe to patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy since June 1994 and to patients with treatment- resistant depression since March 2001," continued Mr. Cummins. "That experience, combined with over six-years of U.S. TRD studies and 94,000 patient years of commercial experience in over 31,000 epilepsy patients in the United States, confirms the safety and quality of the VNS Therapy System. Cyberonics looks forward to the day when all the VNS products currently available in Europe to people with epilepsy and depression are also available to Americans with those same illnesses."

ABOUT VNS THERAPY AND CYBERONICS

Cyberonics, Inc. was founded in 1987 to design, develop and market medical devices for the long-term treatment of epilepsy, depression and other chronic neurological disorders using a unique therapy, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Stimulation is delivered by the VNS Therapy System, an implantable generator similar to a cardiac pacemaker. The VNS Therapy System delivers preprogrammed intermittent mild electrical pulses to the vagus nerve in the patient's neck 24 hours a day. The Company's initial market is epilepsy, a disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. Epilepsy is the second most prevalent neurological disorder. The Cyberonics VNS Therapy System was approved by the FDA on July 16, 1997 for use as an adjunctive therapy in reducing the frequency of seizures in adults and adolescents over 12 years of age with partial onset seizures that are refractory to antiepileptic medications. The VNS Therapy System is also approved for sale as a treatment for epilepsy in all the member countries of the European Economic Area, Canada, Australia and other markets. To date, more than 31,000 epilepsy patients in 24 countries have accumulated over 94,000 patient years of experience using VNS Therapy. The VNS Therapy System was deemed approvable in writing by the FDA on February 2, 2005 as an adjunctive treatment for chronic treatment-resistant depression for adults over the age of 18. According to FDA's approvable letter, final approval was conditional on final labeling, final protocols for a post- approval dosing optimization study and patient registry, satisfactory compliance with the Quality System Regulations (QSR) and satisfactory resolution of any outstanding bioresearch monitoring issues. The VNS Therapy System is approved for sale in the European Economic Area and in Canada as a treatment for depression in patients with treatment-resistant or treatment- intolerant major depressive episodes, including unipolar depression and bipolar disorder (manic depression). VNS Therapy is at various levels of investigational clinical study as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders, Alzheimer's disease, chronic headache/migraine and bulimia. The Company is headquartered in Houston, Texas and has an office in Brussels, Belgium. For additional information please visit us at http://www.cyberonics.com .

For more information on vagus nerve stimulation's use for depression go to: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050601/daw030.html?.v=13

For the full press release onn VNS and its approval in Europe go to: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050601/daw030.html?.v=13

Posted by at 11:49 AM | Comments (7)

Bebe Campbell on Bipolar Disorder

Bebe Moore Campbell is a well known author of a number of excellent children's books (as well as books for adults) that are focused on explaining to children bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. She has published such books as: Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, 72 Hour Hold and many others.

The New York Times talked with her recently:

"Like many novelists, the best-selling author Bebe Moore Campbell often starts her books with experiences from her own life.

In "Singing in the Comeback Choir," she wrote of intergenerational relationships in a black family. In "Brothers and Sisters," she examined the difficulties of friendships between blacks and whites.

And in her just-released "72 Hour Hold," the author tells of Keri, a determined African-American woman who sometimes imagines herself as Harriet Tubman as she tries to save her teenage daughter from bipolar disorder. (The title refers to the amount of time the mentally ill in California can be hospitalized without their consent.)

Ms. Campbell's own family has experienced a case of mental illness, firing her passion and advocacy. Three years ago, she helped start the Inglewood, Calif., chapter of the self-help organization the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

See Full story (free registration required): A Portrait of Pain Is Drawn With Care


Posted by szadmin at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Beyond Lithium for Bipolar Disorder

Beyond Lithium For Bipolar Disorder

While lithium treatment has proven to be a godsend for many of the two million Americans with bipolar disorder, it is not without its downside. People on the drug may develop hypothyroidism, tremors, cognitive impairment, and excessive thirst and urination and gain weight.

However, better treatments for bipolar disorder depend on a better understanding of the still-mysterious mechanism by which lithium damps the highs and lows of the disorder. Now, researchers led by Philip Brandish of Merck & Co., Inc., and Edward Scolnick of the Broad Institute (formerly of Merck and Co., Inc.) have identified genes whose activity appears to be switched on by lithium, suggesting more direct targets for drugs to treat the disorder.

Lithium is known to inhibit the production of an important cellular switch, called inositol monophosphate, so the researchers set out to find genes that were activated by this inhibition. They treated slices of rat brain with lithium chloride as well as a chemical that depletes inositol. The also treated other slices with the two chemicals, but added inositol.

The researchers used DNA microarrays--so-called "gene chips"--to detect genes that were unequivocally activated when inositol was depleted in the brain slices.

They discovered several genes that they concluded "suggest new directions toward the treatment of bipolar disorder."

The behavior of one such activated gene, called GPR88, has been found to be associated with a rat model of mania, they said. This gene codes for a protein that is an "orphan receptor"--that is, its cellular function in sensing external chemical signals is unknown.

The researchers also found that the gene called AD-CYAP1 was upregulated in the treated brain slices. This gene codes for a signaling molecule called PACAP in the brain and is known to be close to a chromosomal region that genetic studies have shown to be associated with a higher risk of bipolar disorder.

PACAP protein is found throughout the central nervous system, said the researchers. They cited studies demonstrating that mice in which the gene is knocked out show hyperactivity and defects in their circadian (day-night) behavior--both also characteristic of humans with bipolar disorder. Also, in animals, lithium has been shown to affect such circadian behavior. The protein also has been found to affect the activity of a key neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain, said the researchers. What's more, they found two other genes--PAM and GCH--that are involved in producing PACAP to be upregulated in the treated brain tissue.

Brandish and his colleagues said that such findings "suggest a coordinated upregulation of genes leading to increased dopamine signaling. In the light of the recent clinical data and human genetic linkage, it is tempting to speculate that PACAP night be a therapeutic effector of lithium in bipolar disorder."

They concluded that "the data presented here warrant further investigation of PACAP signaling in the brain and of the orphan receptor GPR88 as potential new targets in bipolar disorder."

Philip E. Brandish, Ming Su, Daniel J. Holder, Paul Hodor, John Szumiloski, Robert R. Kleinhanz, Jaime E. Forbes, Mollie E. McWhorter, Sven J. Duenwald, Mark L. Parrish, Sang Na, Yuan Liu, Robert L. Phillips, John J. Renger, Sethu Sankaranarayanan, Adam J. Simon, and Edward M. Scolnick: "Regulation of Gene Expression by Lithium and Depletion of Inositol in Slices of Adult Rat Cortex"

###

The researchers include Philip E. Brandish, Ming Su, Daniel J. Holder, Paul Hodor, John Szumiloski, Sang Na, Yuan Liu, Robert L. Phillips, John J. Renger, Sethu Sankaranarayanan, and Adam J. Simon of Merck & Co., Inc.; Robert R. Kleinhanz, Jaime E. Forbes, Mollie E. McWhorter, Sven J. Duenwald, and Mark L. Parrish of Rosetta Inpharmatics LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck & Co. Inc.; and Edward M. Scolnick of The Broad Institute (formerly of Merck and Co., Inc.). Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors are employees of Merck & Co., Inc. and potentially own stock and/or hold stock options in the company.

Posted by szadmin at 11:33 AM | Comments (6)

Bipolar Disorder and Eating Disorders

Dr. Carla Ramacciotti of the University of Pisa in Italy recently submitted writings to the journal of Psychiatry Research explaining that there is definitely a relationship between mood disorders and eating disorders. This relationship, however, remains nebulous.

Though eating disorders are relatively common among the bipolar community, it is often difficult to discern whether it is a product of mood alterations or a function of prescribed medications for the disorder.

See the full story: Bipolar disorder leads to eating disorder

Posted by szadmin at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)

Integrated Treatment, Childhood Bipolar Disorder

Multi-Modal Integrated Treatment for Youth With Bipolar Disorder
By Mani N. Pavuluri, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael W. Naylor, M.D.
Psychiatric Times May 2005 Vol. XXII Issue 6

Given the hectic pace of clinical practice, it is difficult to keep up with the research on pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD). This is particularly true in the area of pharmacological management. An effective, evidence-based algorithm for the pharmacological treatment of PBD will offer support for clinical decision making. For example, a single mood stabilizer has been shown to be ineffective in more than 50% of cases (DelBello et al., 2002; Kafantaris et al., 2001a, 2001b). Furthermore, a systematic approach to medication management will prove useful in updating a patient's treatment when faced with the development of medication tolerance. Finally, this framework will provide doctors with powerful means of collaborating with families. Our preliminary studies have also demonstrated effectiveness of integrating psychotherapy that is based on validating parents and children, while effectively solving problems related to affect dysregulation (Pavuluri et al., 2004a).

See Full Story: Integrated Treatment for Youth With Bipolar Disorder

Posted by szadmin at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)

FAQ on Stem Cells

Wired magazine (a magazine that covers technology developments) has a short overview (questions and answers) on the basics of stem cells. This is valuable because researchers have already "turned stem cells into neurons, which they hope can treat people with brain disorders or spinal-cord injuries".

"You probably know the difference between a stem cell and a fuel cell. But if your comprehension of stem-cell research doesn't go beyond that, you're not alone.

Stem-cell science is embedded in a quagmire of science, policy and ethics that can be daunting to sort out. But anyone can learn the basics with this Wired News crash course. And everyone should, because stem-cell research brings up issues like where your tax money goes, who you vote for, your family’s health and even your most fundamental beliefs about what makes us human. "

For the full story: FAQ: What's Up With Stem Cells?

For more information on Stem Cell research in California see: We're Not Dismembering Babies

Source: Wired Magazine

Posted by szadmin at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Bipolar Disorder More Prevalent

BIPOLAR DISORDER MORE PREVALENT AND COSTLY THAN BELIEVED;
High Suicide rate could be reduced greatly by use of the drug Lithium.

Studies presented at International Conference on Bipolar Disorder

PITTSBURGH, June 17, 2005 - The incidence of bipolar disorder in the general population is considerably higher than earlier studies have indicated, resulting in significantly less productivity and more days lost from work compared to the better known major depressive disorder, according to preliminary findings from a national survey presented today at the Sixth International Conference on Bipolar Disorder.

Another study has found that lithium, one of psychiatry’s oldest drugs, may be the most effective solution for preventing suicide in patients with manic-depressive disorder and other types of bipolar disorders. Nearly half of all U.S. suicide deaths each year are in patients with bipolar disorders, in whom the risk is more than 20 times that of the general population.

The new prevalence estimate counts 4.3 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from a bipolar disorder or “sub-threshold” bipolar disorder, which includes those who don’t fit the precise clinical criteria for bipolar disorder but whose symptoms still severely impair their ability to perform daily tasks of living. Previous studies have placed the prevalence at 1 percent.

The findings are included in a new analysis from the National Co-Morbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), which is the first to examine the prevalence and societal costs of bipolar disorder. As such, the summary of the survey’s preliminary results presented by Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and principal investigator of the NCS-R, bring into sharper focus society’s shared burden from bipolar disorder.

Compared to major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder has a significantly greater impact on an individual’s ability to go to work or be productive when at work, according to the NCS-R, which included face-to-face interviews with 9,282 U.S. adults. On an annual basis, the mean number of lost days for someone with bipolar disorder is 49.5, versus 31.9 for someone with major depressive disorder. Nationally, bipolar disorder carries a $25,868 billion-a-year price tag, an economic burden not before appreciated, says Dr. Kessler, who believes previous research has over-estimated the societal costs of major depression while underestimating the costs of bipolar disorder.

One significant cost associated with bipolar disorder is suicide, quantifiable in terms of both the loss of human life and its impact on society. Of particular concern is that attempts made by bipolar patients have about a one-in-five chance of being lethal, compared to a one-in-20 attempt-to-suicide rate within the general population.

According to another Harvard researcher, Ross J. Baldessarini, M.D., the number of suicides and attempted suicides, as well as their associated costs, could be reduced significantly in the United States by a return to more widespread use of lithium, as had been more common before the introduction of newer drugs and continues to be standard practice in Europe. The first modern use of lithium to treat mania was more than 55 years ago.

Dr. Baldessarini, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and his team conducted a comprehensive, quantitative review of studies comparing rates of suicides and attempts among patients who were undergoing different treatments, receiving a placebo as part of a clinical trial or receiving no treatment at all.

Patients taking lithium had an 80 to 85 percent lower rate of attempts or completed suicides compared to patients with manic-depressive illness not being treated with lithium, with strikingly consistent findings across a large number of dissimilar studies.

“The effect that bipolar disorder has on individuals, their families, the work place – society as a whole cannot be underestimated. While it’s troubling that we are learning the burden is much greater than we even realized, we can take steps to reduce some of the hardship. One approach that may make sense, and which appears could help reduce the burden associated with suicide, is a lithium-based treatment,” commented Ellen Frank, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Held every two years, the International Conference on Bipolar Disorder is the only venue in the world devoted exclusively to highlighting new research into bipolar disorder. The Sixth Conference is being held June 16 to 18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, and is being sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Source: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Posted by szadmin at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Bipolar Disorder Conference Coverage

Bipolar Disorder Genes

Genetics where the major theme at International Conference on Bipolar Disorder that took place on June 16-18.

Despite an intensive effort, researchers have yet to identify the genes that cause bipolar disorder, yet the practical benefits of such a discovery could reap rich rewards for those suffering from the mental illness.

New research findings presented at the Sixth International Conference on Bipolar Disorder suggest specific genetic linkages that are associated with the mental illness, bringing researchers much closer to finding the elusive gene or genes. Another study finds an association between an abnormal thyroid condition and bipolar disorder, pointing to the possibility that a simple blood test could help identify those at risk.

To further investigate more specific genetic linkages, Marion Leboyer, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Paris Faculty of Medicine, studied 87 bipolar sibling pairs from 70 European families who were participants in the European Collaborative Study on Early Onset Bipolar Affective Disorder and identified eight regions of genetic linkages that, while not necessarily the sole or unique ones associated with this disease, zeroed in on what may be the specific genes that predispose individuals to early onset of this debilitating disease.

According to Dr. Leboyer, his studies of families with members who developed the illness as children or adolescents reduces those genetic and clinical variabilities that can complicate efforts to identify susceptibility genes. Finding these genes would help researchers develop more effective treatments or even prevent the disorder from occurring in at-risk individuals.

Other genetic clues come from results of two related studies involving adolescent and young adult offspring of bipolar parents and of twins with bipolar disorder, suggesting a genetic link between bipolar disorder and an abnormal thyroid condition.

Willem Nolen, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Groningen Medical Centre, Netherlands, found that bipolar patients were twice as likely as healthy subjects to develop autoimmune thyroiditis (AT). Among the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder, who usually have an increased prevalence of bipolar and other mood disorders, there also was an increased prevalence of AT. Surprisingly, this finding did not seem to be related to whether their offspring themselves had been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness.

Among identical twins (who share all their genes) with at least one twin having bipolar disorder, prevalence of AT was increased in the other twin, irrespective of whether the other twin also had bipolar disorder. However among fraternal twins (who share 50 percent of their genes) with at least one fraternal twin having bipolar disorder, prevalence of AT was increased only in the other fraternal twin who also had bipolar disorder, but was not increased in the fraternal twin without the illness.

Dr. Nolen’s research highlights the increasing importance of identifying endophenotypes – clinical information unique to certain groups of individuals that may be predictive of risk for disease and course of illness. Although associated genes for bipolar disorder and AT have yet to be identified, AT may be an endophenotype for bipolar disorder. As such, the findings suggest that relatives of patients with bipolar disorder not only inherit the vulnerability for bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, but that some also may share the genetic vulnerability for developing AT.

If proven valid in further studies, the research suggests that members of families in which bipolar disorder occurs could be tested for autoimmune thyroiditis by means of a simple blood analysis, thereby helping to identify those who also may be at risk for developing bipolar disorder.

“Why hasn’t a gene for bipolar disorder been identified when clearly the illness affects some families more than others and what is science telling us about who is most vulnerable and how the onset of the illness can be prevented? While a number of genes have been suspected to be associated with bipolar disorder, we thus far have failed to isolate any definitive bipolar gene, but are making sure progress that will ultimately bring answers about how and why this debilitating disease affects so many. By exploring these genetic connections, we inch closer to surer diagnosis and more rational and effective treatments,” commented Michael Thase, M.D., professor pf psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Held every two years, the International Conference on Bipolar Disorder is the only venue in the world devoted exclusively to highlighting new research into bipolar disorder. The Sixth Conference is being held June 16 to18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, and is being sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.


Source: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Posted by szadmin at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

Levothyroxine Improves Mood

High doses of levothyroxine has been found to improve mood in those with bipolar disorder. Levothyroxine is marketed as levoxyl. The study looked at the effects on brain function that are associated with mood alteration. Subjects were administered a high dose of levothyroxine while using their ongoing medication, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers.

"The researchers said that 'before L-T-4 treatment, the patients exhibited significantly higher activity in the right subgenual cingulate cortex, left thalamus, medial temporal lobe (right amygdala, right hippocampus), right ventral striatum, and cerebellar vermis; and had lower relative activity in the middle frontal gyri bilaterally.' 'Significant behavioral and cerebral metabolic effects accompanied changes in thyroid hormone status,'" (NewsRX.com, 2005).

Levothyroxine improved mood in several of the patients. Seven had a mood remission and three had a partial response to the medication. There were ten in the levothyroxine group and ten in the control group. The mean dose was 320 mcg/day.

"The decrease in relative activity of the left thalamus, left amygdala, left hippocampus, and left ventral striatum was significantly correlated with reduction in depression scores. "Results of the whole-brain analyses were generally consistent with the volume of interest results." "We conclude that bipolar depressed patients have abnormal function in prefrontal and limbic brain areas. L-T-4 may improve mood by affecting circuits involving these areas, which have been previously implicated in affective disorders," (NewsRX.com).

This study shows what the positive benefits can potentially be for some of those who use levothyroxine to treat their bipolar disorder. Obviously not everyone who uses this drug to treat BPD will have the same effects. Make sure to talk to your psychiatrist before changing or altering any form of medication that you may be taking.

For the full research article in PDF form go to: http://tinyurl.com/bfwz8

To go to the Levoxyl webpage go to: http://www.levoxyl.com/

Posted by at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)

Stanford Bipolar Education Day - July 30th

Stanford University is hosting a bipolar disorder (and schizophrenia) education day at the end of July. This is something that every university focused on bipolar disorder should do every year for its local community. Its great to see Stanford starting up this annual event.

1st Annual - Bipolar Education Day

When: Saturday, July 30th, 2005, 8 am to noon

Where: Friedenrich Auditorium
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University
725 Welch Road, Palo Alto, California

About the Bipolar Disorder Education Day:

Presented by the
Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Ira Glick, MD
Director, Schizophrenia Clinic

and

Dr. Terence Ketter, MD
Director, Bipolar Clinic

Who Should Go: Individuals with Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorders,
family members, caregivers, friends and all community members are invited to attend.

Continental Breakfast will be provided

Please RSVP to Jennifer Nam at 650.724.4795 or at: jnam@stanford.edu

For more information: Stanford University Bipolar Disorder Research programs

Posted by szadmin at 9:54 AM | Comments (3)

June 26, 2005

State and Corrections Facility Sued

An advocacy group for the mentally ill based in Columbia, South Carolina has recently sued the state and corrections department in Columbia for the improper care of mentally ill inmates. They are asking the court to make the state design and pay for a sufficient system to help treat mentally ill inmates.

There have been studies of the prison system in the past that cited the fact that its treatment of the mentally ill was in need of some serious refurbishing. "But the state hasn't taken steps needed to address the concerns about care for 2,146 mentally ill inmates. Instead, the lawsuit said, the state is spending less money on prisons in general and not nearly enough to care for the mentally ill - 23 percent less in 2004 than in 2001" (Davenport, 2005).

The prison system lacks an adequate amount of full-time psychiatrists, which limits their ability to diagnose and treat the mentally ill within the walls of the prison. There are currently only 3 full time psychiatrists for a population of 23,000 inmates; they are supposed to have at least 14.

The lawsuit also stated that "Prison guards are inadequately trained to handle mentally ill inmates and use tear gas and pepper spray disproportionately on them. Mentally ill inmates end up confined in cells 23 hours a day for weeks or years and aren't allowed to attend rehabilitative or vocational programs. Medication is often delayed or not given and sometime discontinued altogether without consulting a psychiatrist" (Davenport, 2005).

Hopefully this lawsuit will change the prison system in South Carolina into a place where mentally ill patients can receive the treatment they need. A large portion of prison populations consist of the mentally ill which means that a large percentage of those in prison are not receiving the proper care that they deserve as human beings and as prison inmates.

To view the full story go to: http://tinyurl.com/94v26

The source of this article was The Associated Press & Local Wire.


Posted by at 3:02 PM | Comments (0)

Physical Activity Has Benefits for the Mentally Ill

A recent study was done concerning the medical costs for the mentally ill. The researchers compared those who were sedentary to those who lived an active lifestyle and found that there was a significant difference in medical costs for the two groups. "Scientists from the United States conducted a study 'to determine whether leisure-time physical activity is associated with lower direct annual medical expenditures among a sample of adults with mental disorders. Using the 1995 National Health Interview Survey and 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, differences between medical expenditures for sedentary and active persons were analyzed using t-tests'" (NewRX.com, 2005).

On average those who were sedentary had a medical expenditure that was $2,785 higher than the active group.

"The total expenditure associated with sedentary behavior was $31.7 billion ($19.1 billion in men; $12.6 billion in women). Physical activity is associated with a reduced economic burden among people with mental disorders" (NewsRX.com, 2005).

The physical health benefits that are reaped from having an active lifestyle have long been common knowledge, but the mental health benefits have not been as thoroughly discussed. Having an active lifestyle is associated with better mental health for several reasons. The first is the obvious fact that it means the person has a hobby, sport, or exercise that they do on a continuous basis. This gives them something to look forward to and something to focus on. The second reason is that exercise releases endorphins into the brain. Endorphins are hormones that numb physical pain and give one feelings of emotional contentness. Many people use running as a way to release stress and to alleviate feelings of depression. Sometimes people can use this to medicate their mental disorder naturally instead of using medication. Others use it in addition to medication to relieve any of their remaining symptoms.

Adopting an active lifestyle after a lifetime of being inactive can be difficult, simply because change is difficult. Not to mention that it takes no effort to be sedentary, whereas exercising or playing a sport does. Hopefully knowing the mental health benefits of "activity" will increase the number of people who take on an active lifestyle and therefore benefit from what can often be a natural symptom alleviator.

For more information on the link between endorphins and your mental health go to: http://tinyurl.com/9zkdo

The source of this article was the Medical Letter on the CDC & FDA via NewsRx.com.

This study was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior under the title of: A preliminary analysis of medical expenditures among active and sedentary U.S. adults with mental disorders.

Posted by at 2:53 PM | Comments (0)

Lack of Adequate Mental Health Laws

The WHO organization is bringing coverage to the lack of adequate mental health laws that have become commonplace in many of the worlds countries. Many countries have laws that are outdated and do not take recent improvements of treatment into account. About a quarter of the worlds countries have no mental health legislation whatsoever. WHO is concerned that these outdated laws are leading to the abuse of patients' right's.

"Outmoded laws tend to focus on care in mental institutions, which can compound patients' suffering and raise the risk of abuse, particularly in countries where the health system lacks resources, said Benedetto Saraceno, head of the WHO's mental health and substance abuse division" (Agence France Presse, 2005).

The WHO advices that people who are mentally ill should be cared for in a community setting. This recommendation is probably due to the fact that a disproportionate number of the worlds legislative systems do not spend much of their time on matters concerning the mentally ill; it is usually not considered a priority, if it is considered at all.

"Mental health laws can be used to lay out basic standards, such as separate sleeping, washing and toilet facilities for male and female patients in institutions, she noted... Mental health laws can also be used to clamp down on many practices long deemed harmful for patients, ranging from use of shackles to misuse of electric shock therapy, said the WHO" (Agence France Presse, 2005).

For those in countries who have regularly updated mental health laws this may seem absurd, maybe even cruel, but it is commonplace in many countries today. Many of these countries are places that have issues to deal with which take the forefront of their policies. For example, a country that is ridden by civil war, famine, or a corrupt government is not going to focus on the needs of the mentally ill and their families. Until those issues are dealt with or fixed, there are not as many opportunities for the mentally ill community to have laws made that will protect their rights.

To see the full story go to: http://tinyurl.com/8ht2s

The source of this story was the Agence France Presse.


Posted by at 2:47 PM | Comments (3)

June 24, 2005

S.C. Builds New Hospital For Kids

South Carolina is planning to spend around $18 million on a new psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. Nationally the number of psychiatric hospitals has been declining and it has become common for them to be torn down or used for other purposes.

"The new hospital would be paid for with federal money the Mental Health Department receives for capital improvements. Although the existing facility is supposed to be closed in July 2006, the board is proposing that it remain open while a new 80-bed hospital is being built. Three state-owned sites in Columbia have been proposed for the new hospital" (Eichel, 2005).

With the closing of many hospitals come stories of people who were forced into bad situations. Some families have had to give custody of their children to the state in order for them to receive the psychiatric services that they need. Many states have closed all or most of their juvenile mental hospitals; such states include New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Those in South Carolina are therefore especially lucky to have a hospital being built for them, rather than being torn down.

For the full story go to: http://tinyurl.com/8rhyv

The source of this article is The Charlotte Observer.

Posted by at 1:32 PM | Comments (4)

Brain Monitoring Technology

A research alliance has been developed to fund the production of a new brain-monitoring technology that would be able to help in the diagnosis and treatment of depression, Alzheimers, and other neurological disorders. Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX) will be giving Aspect Medical Systems (ASPM) $25 million to fund its development.

This technology could aid psychiatrists clinicians in finding the drugs most suitable for each patient suffering from depression. The significance of this research alliance is reinforced by findings being presented at this week's meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) indicating that Aspect's technology may be able to help clinicians improve patient response to antidepressant therapy and provide early identification of cognitive decline associated with AD. For the estimated 18.8 million Americans suffering from depression and four million from AD, this research may signal new hope to more quickly match depression sufferers with effective pharmaceutical or device- based therapies, and to help identify AD patients in the earliest stages of disease.

A technology that could help clinicians identify neurological disease states, as well as the first, best medication or device-based therapies for treating psychiatric illnesses, could profoundly impact clinical practice," said Andrew Leuchter, M.D., professor of Psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and chair of Aspect's neuroscience advisory board. "The challenge is finding the best treatment to help each individual recover quickly. With depression alone, fewer than 50 percent of patients get well after their first course of antidepressant therapy, and many patients become discouraged and give up when repeated attempts at treatment prove ineffective or cause severe side effects. If Aspect's technology could help determine at an early time if an antidepressant therapy is likely to speed recovery, it could help make depression easier to manage, improve treatment adherence, and dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of patients. Furthermore, for those patients who do not respond to medication, Aspect's technology could potentially guide device-based neurostimulation therapy by helping clinicians determine if this approach would be effective prior to device implantation, and by helping clinicians determine the appropriate amount of stimulation to use."

Four studies related to the use of Aspect's brain monitoring technology in detecting and managing the treatment of neurological and psychiatric conditions are being presented at the APA meeting. This research supports previous studies indicating that Aspect's brain monitoring technology was able to predict within a few days of initiating treatment the effectiveness of antidepressant medications in treating depressed patients. This finding is significant because it typically takes several weeks to determine if a depressed patient has responded to a specific treatment, and many patients suffer while they undergo multiple changes in therapy to identify an effective regimen. Other research being presented at the meeting further indicates that Aspect's technology correlates with clinical assessments of mild cognitive dysfunction, which may precede the onset of AD.

The benefits that this will reap for those with depression, Alzheimer's, and other neurological disorders has only begun to be tapped.

To view the full press release go to: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050523/nem008.html?.v=11

The source of this article was the Boston Scientific Corporation.


Posted by at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)

Medicaid Restricts Drug Limits

Starting July 1st the number of prescriptions allowed for those using Medicaid will be reduced. There will be a 2 prescription limit on brand name drugs a month, and only 5 drugs a month will be allowed. Prior to this policy 7 prescriptions were allowed on a month to month basis. Many people are asking that lawmakers allow an exception for those who have a mental disorder and for those who have HIV or AIDS. Many people are unsure of what they will do in the coming month because their current prescription needs surpass what will now be allowed by Medicaid. Some drugs do not even have generics available, specifically some of the HIV medication that many use.

Some people have even gone to the extreme of moving out of the state because they need to. One man who has HIV will be moving to New Orleans so that he can get the medication that he needs to control his symptoms and survive. There will be some help for those who are going to be detrimentally affected by this policy.

"Without proper medication, the mentally ill could harm someone or move into the state's mental health facilities, proponents say. For Mississippians suffering from HIV and AIDS, three brand-name medications are required to control symptoms... Mental health patients will be aided by the Comprehensive Neurological Program, he[Medicaid Director Warren Jones] said. HIV and AIDS patients will be assisted through the sole source purchasing program, however, details of the programs were unavailable" (Hipp, 2005).

The effects that this will have on the mentally ill community and those with HIV/ AIDS is undeniable, but hopefully programs such as the Comprehensive Neurological Program will be able to make up for the deficiency.

To learn more about Medicaid and its policies in your state go to: http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/medicaidrx.htm

The source of this article was The Clarion-Ledger

Posted by at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

Prison Houses the Mentally Ill

Prisons often end up being were the mentally ill are housed due to the fact that many people do not receive the help they need. Little is often done to help the mentally ill until it is too late. New Jersey has a surprisingly large number of people with mental disorders in their prisons. Approximately 60% of those in its state prisons are mentally ill. About 80% of those who are mentally ill were undiagnosed before they were put in jail.

One example of this system is Sam Manzie "In 1997, 15-year-old Sam Manzie killed an 11-year-old boy who was selling candy for a school fund-raiser. Just three days earlier, Sam's parents had asked an Ocean County judge to admit him for treatment. The judge refused" (Davis, 2005).

This problem is only going to gradually increase until the problem is solved by the state. But when that is going to happen and how is still under speculation. "Acting Gov. Codey has proposed adding $40 million for mental health initiatives. The funds would expand staff at mental health screening centers, clear waiting lists for psychiatric services and create programs that provide alternatives to jail for people with mental illness, he says. Codey also talks of establishing a $200 million housing trust fund, using leftover bond proceeds, that would create 10,000 permanent housing units over the next 10 years for the mentally ill" (Davis, 2005).

Whether such an initiative would help is unknown, but it is obvious that something must be done to help the state's mentally ill. New Jersey does not have any aid to help move those in jail with mental illness into treatment programs instead. Many of those who are released from jail eventually return to the prison system because they are unable to receive the treatment they need. They are often poor and do not have the medical coverage needed to get help. Even those with health insurance often find that it does not cover the services that they need.

To go to the New Jersey Department of Correction's home page go to:
http://www.state.nj.us/corrections/index.shtml

The source of this article was the North Jersey Media Group.

Posted by at 9:47 PM | Comments (0)

Housing Before Treatment

Baltimore is planning to start their own program to defeat homelessness by following the example of one of New York's programs. Pathways for Housing is a program that helps the mentally ill who are homeless with getting apartments. The program focuses on finding housing for the homeless before they are treated for drug addiction or mental illness. They acknowledge the fact that when they find an apartment for most people who have a mental disorder and a drug problem that the individual is probably not going to initially stop doing drugs. But getting them into housing is the first step in giving people the opportunity to "function in a rational world."

"Sam Tsemberis, a psychologist who started the program about a dozen years ago, says the concept of housing the homeless before they receive treatment for drug addiction or mental illness isn't something he thought up. "It's what people told me they wanted," he said, referring to the men and women he met as an outreach worker in New York in the 1980s.

Pathways' harm-reduction model, which stresses protection over everything else, is winning converts. As word of its success has spread - 85 percent of the program's clients remain housed -duplicates are cropping up. Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver are among a growing list of cities with "housing first" initiatives" (Anderson, 2005).

Baltimore may be the next to follow with a program in their own city. Participants are not forced to get drug treatment or psychiatric help. The hope is that they eventually will. The program is also quite cost effective in comparison to the alternatives. The Pathways for Housing program costs $22,500 per person per year. The customary program costs about $40,000 to $65,000 per person per year. In New York city a bed in the state jail costs $85,000 and a state hospital costs $175,000. Pathways serves around 400-500 people a year with a budget of about $12 million dollars. The money comes from grants, the government, and benefits that the clients already receive due to their poverty.

Check out the Pathways to Housing website at http://www.pathwaystohousing.org/

The source of this article is The Baltimore Sun.

Posted by at 8:52 PM | Comments (0)

Medicaid Patients' Depression Not Effectively Treated

According to a recent survey, Medicaid patients' depression is not being effectively treated. Medicaid patients were less likely than patients' with private insurance to be treated by practice guidelines. The guidelines are made so that patients' with depression and other mental disorders get the necessary alleviation from their symptoms.

More than 85 percent of both privately insured and Medicaid patients with depression are not being effectively treated, as defined by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), according to new data presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

While both sets of patients were receiving inadequate treatment in this study, Medicaid claimants were less likely to be treated according to practice guidelines. This population was nearly twice as likely to be prescribed an antidepressant below the recommended dose (19 percent vs. 10 percent, respectively); less likely to stay on medication for more than 60 days (39 percent vs. 55 percent, respectively), the duration of time recommended for effective acute treatment; and half as likely to have their antidepressant switched or augmented (5 percent vs. 10 percent, respectively) when they did not respond or tolerate their current dose or medication.

According to practice guidelines, if a patient does not feel better after two months of treatment, their physician should increase the dose, switch medications or augment with a second medication or psychotherapy to help patients achieve success. Complete resolution of all depression symptoms is the goal of treatment. When symptoms don't go away completely, patients can have difficulty getting well and staying that way.

"Although patients in this study overcome the first, and very difficult, hurdle of receiving help, the treatment they received often wasn't adequate," said Rebecca Robinson, MS, health outcomes researcher, Eli Lilly and Company. "Healthcare providers need to follow through the continuum of care to ensure adequate quality care is provided to these patients by following treatment guidelines and giving patients access to medications that will increase their chances of getting well and staying well."

Additional Study Highlights

Medicaid patients scored lower than those with private insurance on all three components of the Antidepressant Medication Management (AMM) measures. Medicaid patients were more than five times less likely to attend the three recommended follow-up visits with their physician or mental health professional (5 percent vs. 29 percent, respectively) in the 12-weeks following diagnosis and prescription of antidepressant medication. They were also considerably less likely to receive effective acute treatment after a new episode of depression (39 percent vs. 61 percent, respectively) or recommended continuation care in the six months following the episode (22 percent vs. 44 percent, respectively). The one state that was similar to private insurance had greater access to antidepressant medications.

On average, Medicaid claimants were younger, sicker, and more likely to have capitated insurance plans, which includes an annual set dollar limit on payment for health care services.

Impact of Depression on Society

Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States and results in more days of disability than chronic medical conditions like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and lower back pain. Depression costs the United States more than $83 billion annually: more than $26 billion in direct medical costs and approximately $57 billion in indirect costs. An estimated 16 percent of the costs of antidepressants are associated with patients who were never adequately treated. Inadequate dose and duration of antidepressant treatment has been reported to directly hinder treatment outcomes.

More than 200 million days of work are lost each year due to depressive disorders and, on average, 55 percent of costs are absorbed by employers because of absenteeism and lost work productivity. The annual cost of lost productive work time, excluding short- and long-term disability costs, time among US workers with depression was $44 billion. Individuals with major depression consistently reported the most lost productive work time when it co-occurred with pain, weakness, or fatigue; gastrointestinal complaints, and sensory or nerve impairment. Most of the costs were for reduced performance while at work rather than absenteeism -- less than one third of these workers reported use of antidepressants in the previous 12 months and treatment effectiveness was reported to be moderate.

This study used participants beginning treatment for depression with antidepressants and followed their progress over a 12-month period. The study did not use subjects who had already started antidepressant use prior to the beginning of this study. Those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or psychoses were not used, but this does not mean that this study does not have any significance for them. If Medicaid patients' with depression are being given this kind of treatment, it is likely that those with other mental disorders are being treated similarly. Of course, this study can not substantiate this claim since it did not use any people who had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or psychoses.

For the full press release on this story go to: http://tinyurl.com/aclzn

For Eli Lilly and Company's website go to: http://www.lilly.com/index.html

The source of this press release was Eli Lilly and Company

Posted by at 8:15 PM | Comments (3)

June 22, 2005

Antipsychotic Linked to Tumors

Risperidone is an antipsychotic used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other psychological disorders. Unfortunately, researchers have been finding some (relatively minor, in the grand scheme of things) health results. It appears that Risperidone is linked to a higher rate of benign tumors (benign in this case, means insigificant from a health standpoint) in the pituitary gland and other health problems, in comparison to others taking similar drugs. It appears to be an uncommon occurrence but the side effects still need to be validated by other research studies.

Many of those who grew tumors while taking Risperidone were taking other drugs at the same time, so there still needs to be a controlled study before these side effects can be blamed solely on Risperidone. Researchers currently looked at reports of adverse drug reactions from consumers. There were 64 reports of tumors in the pituitary gland that happened while the patients were taking antipsychotic medications. 48 of the reports came from people that were specifically taking Risperidone.

"The FDA said it began investigating the issue after receiving reports associating antipsychotic drugs with pituitary tumors and increased secretion of prolactin, a pituitary hormone that mainly regulates breast milk production and preparing the body for pregnancy. Reports also indicated abnormal secretion of breast milk in some patients, which can be caused by increased production of the hormone.

Antipsychotic drugs are known to block dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain that acts as a brake on the secretion of prolactin. Studies in mice have suggested that treating them with Risperdal or other antipsychotics can result in tumor growth" (Fahy, 2005).

The findings have not accounted for several things, for example, that certain antipsychotic medications have been available to the public for a longer amount of time. It is being encouraged for anyone taking antipsychotics to go get medical treatment if they start to secrete milk abnormally. An MRI scan can determine if one has a tumor in the pituitary gland.

The source of this article was the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Posted by at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

Weight Management Has Link to Bipolar Disorder

People who go to weight management clinics have a higher chance of having bipolar disorder than the general population does. "'We need to start thinking of obesity as a psychiatric disorder,' said principal investigator Renu Kotwal, MD, in an interview. 'When patients who live with obesity come in for counseling for it, we have to find out what is driving the obesity. We have to screen for eating disorder pathology, mood issues, and medications that could cause the problems.' Dr. Kotwal is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio" (Moyer, 2005).

Many people who are obese have psychological reasons for it and when they finally go out to find the help they need, they discover that they have some type of psychological disorder that is causing their weight gain. The link between the two should not be ignored, it should be focused upon so that the person can get their symptoms under control.

Those with bipolar disorder were found to be more likely to have an eating disorder, they were also more likely to have an impulse control disorder. Both of these disorders can result in weight gain. "'These findings show the importance of treating the whole person when an individual comes in for weight management counseling,' Dr. Kotwal said. 'Most of the patients [with bipolar disorder] had not been diagnosed, or they had been misdiagnosed, when they came to the weight management clinic. It is not enough to just give them a medication or a diet. We have to know what issues underlie the weight problems and deal with those in order to have any results'" (Moyer, 2005).

For more infomation on eating disorders go to: http://tinyurl.com/blnwt

The source of this article was the Medscape Medical News.

Posted by at 7:32 PM | Comments (0)

Lithium & Anticonvulsants Useful

Lithium and anticonvulsants lamotrigine and valproate semisodium have been proven to be effective in providing long term treatment to those with bipolar disorder. "'Bipolar disorder is an illness in which sufferers may have over a dozen episodes in their life, so one object of long-term treatment is to prevent relapse,' presenter Dr. Allan H. Young told Reuters Health. However, 'no single drug seems to prevent manic and depressive episodes completely so we should now be testing combinations' like (the antipsychotic drug) olanzapine and lamotrigine or lithium and valproate, he added" (Reuters Health, 2005).

"Compared with valproate sodium, those on lithium were more likely to relapse due to any mood episode (hazard ratio 1.34), withdraw for any reason (risk ratio 1.21) or to cease treatment due to adverse events (risk ratio 1.81). Patients taking lithium were also more likely to cease treatment than those on lamotrigine (risk ratio 2.20), but less likely than those on carbamazepine (risk ratio 0.37)" (Reuters Health, 2005).

Most of the drugs are better at treating for manic symptoms than depressive symptoms. Lithium and olanzapine seem to cut down on manic symptoms, but they may not be as affective in treating for depression. But since a good part of one's time as a bipolar diagnosed individual is spent depressed, this is not a good thing. "Lamotrigine and valproate sodium 'appear to be good for preventing relapse into depression'" (Reuters Health, 2005).

The results of many studies conflict with each other so make sure to be skeptical when looking at each one. Talk to your psychiatrist before changing or adjusting your medication.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder medications go to: http://www.moodswing.org/meds.html

The source of this article was Reuters Health.

Posted by at 6:44 PM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2005

Bipolar I and II cope differently w/ Mania

A study has come out that directs its attention at the different coping styles of those who have bipolar I disorder versus those who have bipolar II disorder. What was specifically looked at was how they cope with the prodromal symptoms that they have prior to a manic episode. Prodromal symptoms are experienced prior to an attack, and signal the onset of it, much like a warning sign. Psychiatrists would find this information useful when figuring out how to treat and give therapy to those with bipolar disorder.

The Coping Inventory for Prodromes of Mania (CIPM) was used to understand how each bipolar individual reacted to the onset of a manic episode. 184 patients with bipolar disorder took the inventory, 133 had bipolar I disorder and 51 had bipolar II disorder.

"The 40-item CIPM contained both adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies and consisted of four factors:

*stimulation reduction (for example, "avoided being with people")
*problem-directed coping (for example, "tried to monitor and restrain my behavior")
*seeking professional help (for example, "started my medication again")
*denial or blame (for example, "hoped the symptoms would go away")" (Moyer, 2005).

The coping styles preferred by the two groups differed remarkably, and with good reason. Bipolar I disorder alternates between severe manic episodes and less severe depression, whereas bipolar II disorder alternates from severe depression to hypomania (less severe manic symptoms). "The most favored choice for those with bipolar I was seeking help, and the most favored choice among those with bipolar II was denial and blame, said Mr. Velyvis. "Considering that bipolar I patients are more likely to experience the more severe consequence of full mania, it is understandable that they would want to reach out and ward it off," Mr. Velyvis said. 'Those with bipolar II, who typically have hypomania, which has less risk, are more tempted to ride the wave more.'" (Moyer, 2005).

This information will greatly help therapists who are determining how to best treat their patients. It is important for any therapist to know the differences between Bipolar I and II disorder and all of the details that separate them. Coping with the onset of mania is something that all bipolar patients have to deal with and making sure that they have a good coping strategy can ensure their mental well-being.

For more information on coping with bipolar disorder go to: http://www.moodswing.org/bpcoping.htm

The source of this article was Medscape Medical News.

Posted by at 9:46 PM | Comments (4)

Mandatory Care for Mentally Ill

Maine's House and Senate have approved a bill that would force mentally ill outpatients to follow the treatment plans ordered by courts or face hospitalization against their will. If approved Maine would be the 43rd state that mandates treatments for outpatients who are mentally ill.

"Opponents of the bill, which would take effect July 1, 2006, see it as an effort to medicate sick people into compliance. They say that recovery from mental illness is possible only when patients are participating voluntarily in their treatment. And opponents, many of whom have mental illnesses themselves, view mandatory care as a violation of basic liberties" (Wack, 2005).

Both sides have valid points; one's basic liberties would be slightly encroached upon if this bill were to be passed. On the other hand, those who are not able to realize that they have a mental illness may benefit from this bill, as well as would their families.

But there are still a few things that stand in the way of this bill being passed. "The Appropriations Committee, which is expected to meet later this month, must allocate $520,000 to fund the bill, said its sponsor, state Sen. John Nutting, D-Leeds. 'That's the only hurdle left,' Nutting said Saturday. "There's not money enough to fund all the bills. So we still have to work very hard to make sure that it's funded" (Wack, 2005).

This bill would only apply to those 21 and older who suffer from a severe and chronic mental illness. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia would be two of the most commonly targeted by this bill. If they refused to follow the treatment plan issued by the courts they would be forced into a 6-month treatment plan that would be carried out by health care professionals.

Posted by at 8:16 PM | Comments (0)

Type 2 Diabetes has Link to Mental Illness

Type 2 diabetes has been found to have a link to neuropsychiatric disorders. "As many as one in five children with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes may also have a neuropsychiatric disorder, according to a new study. The illnesses include depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, developmental delay, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. The research suggests that children with a neuropsychiatric disease may be at risk for type 2 diabetes, and vice versa" (Newswire Association, 2005).

The exact reason for this correlation is still under speculation, but numerous theories have come out. One theory hypothesizes that the psychiatric medications that these children were on caused their weight gain, and therefore contributed to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Others think that diabetes occurs first and helps spur depression and other psychiatric illnesses. Or depression could lead children to become more sedentary and therefore cause obesity, leading to Type 2 diabetes. All of these possibilities are currently being looked at, and an answer to this question awaits in the nearby future.

"While this study examined previously diagnosed neuropsychiatric
disease, the true frequency of neuropsychiatric conditions in children
with type 2 diabetes may be considerably higher, say the researchers.
'For some children, diabetes may occur first, and help contribute to
depression and other NPDs,' Dr. Berkowitz added. 'Some researchers
suspect that both depression and diabetes have a common basis in the
neuroendocrine system, and one disease may help to stimulate the
other.'

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes and still most common in adults, has been increasing sharply among children over the past decade, in parallel with growing numbers of overweight and obese children. Type 2 diabetes has especially been rising among African-American adolescents, who comprised a majority of the patients in the current study" (Newswire Association, 2005).

Type 2 diabetes has been a growing problem in the US and so this study may help us understand why there are a growing amount of children with psychiatric illnesses. Once the correlation is fully understood we can figure out a solution to this increasing problem.

For more information on depression and diabetes go to: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depdiabetes.cfm

The source of this article was the PR Newswire Association LLC.

Posted by at 7:30 PM | Comments (5)

MRI Shows Brain Differences

MRI's or magnetic resonance imaging now has something else that it can show us: the brain differences in those with bipolar disorder. 10 patients who had bipolar disorder and were having a manic episode were used, as well as 15 people who were healthy.

"The study participants performed a "stop-signal task," in which they were instructed to respond to projected letters depending on the letter color. The test provides a measure of impulse control, Strakowski explained in an interview with Reuters Health.

During the test, bipolar patients exhibited increased activation in a "distributed network of brain regions known to involve the control of emotion and emotional expression," Strakowski said. His group found that these mood networks are connected with the cognitive networks, "so when mood networks are overactivated they interfere with cognition," leading to reduced impulse control.

The researchers looked at areas of the posterior brain typically involved in attentional processes in healthy people. These areas become activated as attentional tasks become more difficult" (Reuters, 2005).

The results showed that those in a manic episode will often give answers (and hence, thoughts) that are quick, but less accurate. These new findings will hopefully give way to better therapeutic styles for those with bipolar disorder. Eventually this technology could also be used to target neurochemical abnormalities and therefore give medications a specific objective.

For more articles on bipolar disorder biology go to: http://tinyurl.com/b7bcb

The source of this article was Reuters Health, for the full length article go to: http://tinyurl.com/acwm8

Posted by at 6:32 PM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2005

Equetro can treat Bipolar I Disorder

The FDA has approved Equetro to treat patients who have acute manic and mixed episodes that result from Bipolar I disorder. "In a pooled analysis of placebo-controlled studies, patients taking EQUETRO who had been previously taking valproate or lithium (both with or without improvement of their symptoms) showed significant reduction in manic symptoms based on a standard measure of Young Mania Rating Scale" (Science Letter, 2005).

Equetro is a carbamazepine extended-release capsule. Hopefully this will have the same effect on those in the community with bipolar disorder as it did in the controlled study.

"Specifically, patients previously taking valproate had a reduction in their average YMRS scores by 10.8 on EQUETRO vs. 5.7 on placebo (p=3D0.04), and those previously treated with lithium had a reduction in their average YMRS scores by 11.6 on EQUETRO vs. 4.0 on placebo p=3D0.03). The analysis involved 115 patients from the two randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trials. There is a need for further clinical trials that are prospectively designed" (Science Letter, 2005).

Bipolar disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders and there are a variety of medications available to treat it. Lithium and valproate are two of the more popular kinds used.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder medications go to: http://www.moodswing.org/meds.html

For more information on Equetro go to: http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/article_pages.asp?AID=993&UID=

The Equetro company website can be found at: http://www.equetro.com/

The source of this article is the Science Letter via NewsRx.com & NewsRx.net


Posted by at 10:14 PM | Comments (1)

Educating Primary Care Physicians

Many people with bipolar disorder and other mental disorders do not go straight to a psychologist or psychiatrist when they are suffering from their symptoms. Many of them go to their primary care physicians who only have a basic knowledge of abnormal psychology, some less than others. But this is where people can often be misdiagnosed and then prescribed the wrong medication for their mental illness. Educating primary care physicians on bipolar disorder is an excellent way to make sure that everyone gets the help they need.

Luckily, many primary care physicians are starting to get the knowledge they need to help those with bipolar disorder. "The Lifelong Learning Initiative is geared toward primary care physicians and addresses the importance of a collaborative approach to the diagnosis and management of bipolar disorder along with the latest findings in screening and best practices regarding treatment.

Each educational activity highlights a particular aspect of bipolar disorder and provides clinicians with a complete overview of this pervasive, highly misdiagnosed illness. The need for such education is evident by the fact that 69% of bipolar patients are misdiagnosed-usually with major depression-which can have life altering consequences" (Managed Care Business Week, 2005).

This educational program will hopefully lower the amounts of people that are misdiagnosed when they have bipolar disorder. Since around 5% of the US population has some form of bipolar disorder this program will help countless Americans.

For more information on Bipolar disorder events and conferences go to: http://www.moodswing.org/links.html

The source of this article was the Managed Care Business Week via IncRx.com via NewsRx.com and NewsRx.net

Posted by at 9:36 PM | Comments (2)

Improvement with Olanzapine and Fluoxetine

A new study has come out comparing the effectiveness of olanzapine and fluoxetine HCL capsules (OFC) to lamotrigine for the treatment of bipolar depression. It appears that patients who took OFC experienced greater relief from the depressive and manic symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. Those taking OFC also responded faster to therapy than those who were taking lamotrigine.

"Lamotrigine is not indicated for the acute treatment of bipolar depression; rather, it is indicated for the maintenance of bipolar I disorder to delay the time to occurrence of mood episode (depression, mania, hypomania, mixed episodes) in patients treated for acute mood episodes with standard therapy. The effectiveness of lamotrigine in the acute treatment of mood episodes has not been established" (NewsRX.com, 2005).

The information was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. "OFC is, according to the company, the first and only acute treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder" (Managed Care Business Week, 2005).

When reading any story about medications it is always good to be skeptical, due to the fact that these studies could potentially have a bias towards promoting certain medications.
Always make sure to talk to your psychiatrist before altering or changing any medication that you are taking.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder Medications go to: http://www.moodswing.org/meds.html

The source of this article was Managed Care Business Week
via IncRx.com.


Posted by at 8:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2005

Lithium Lowers Suicide Rate

Lithium has long been used to treat those with bipolar disorder, especially when they are suffering from severe manic episodes. Recent studies have indicated that a higher than thought percentage of the US population suffers from this sometimes debilitating disorder. But since the discovery of lithium and its beneficial affects on bipolar patients, new drugs have entered the pharmaceutical market. Lithium used to be almost the only thing used to help bipolar patients, but now there are plenty of other medications to choose from.

"Compared to major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder has a significantly greater impact on an individual's ability to go to work or be productive when at work, according to the NCS-R, which included face-to-face interviews with 9,282 U.S. adults. On an annual basis, the mean number of lost days for someone with bipolar disorder is 49.5, versus 31.9 for someone with major depressive disorder. Nationally, bipolar disorder carries a $25,868 billion-a-year price tag, an economic burden not before appreciated, says Dr. Kessler, who believes previous research has over-estimated the societal costs of major depression while underestimating the costs of bipolar disorder.

One significant cost associated with bipolar disorder is suicide, quantifiable in terms of both the loss of human life and its impact on society. Of particular concern is that attempts made by bipolar patients have about a one-in-five chance of being lethal, compared to a one-in-20 attempt-to-suicide rate within the general population.

In a new review article (Arch Suicide Res 2005:9(3):307-19), authors analyzed existing data from international research groups in Sweden, Italy, and the U.S. and concluded that bipolar patients on lithium had an 8-times lower suicide risk than those not taking lithium. The study concludes that: "The great number of lives potentially saved by lithium adds to the remarkable benefits of lithium in economical terms."

Although it is not clear in the article cited above whether patients taking lithium were being compared with patients taking other medications, or patients not on any sort of treatment, other studies doing direct comparisons have also shown the anti-suicidal benefits of lithium. One study from the Journal of American Medicine followed 20,638 patients for seven years who had at least one outpatient diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and were taking either lithium, carbamazapine, or divalproex. After adjusting for confounding variables (age, sex, health plan, year of diagnosis, comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions, and concomitant use of other psychotropic drugs), the authors concluded that those taking divalproex had a 2.7 times greater risk of suicide deaths than those taking lithium.

According to Ross J. Baldessarini, at Harvard Medical School , the number of suicides and attempted suicides, as well as their associated costs, could be reduced significantly in the United States by a return to more widespread use of Lithium, as had been more common before the introduction of newer drugs and continues to be standard practice in Europe. The first modern use of Lithium to treat mania was more than 55 years ago" (XagenaMedicine, 2005).

If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder and is at risk for suicide (see some of the criteria for being at risk), you might want to consider asking your doctor or psychiatrist about lithium as a possible treatment.

More resources for preventing suicide

Study abstracts (available at http://www.pubmed.com - do a search on the study title):

The impact of lithium long-term medication on suicidal behavior and mortality of bipolar patients.
Arch Suicide Res. 2005;9(3):307-19.

Suicide risk in bipolar disorder during treatment with lithium and divalproex.
JAMA. 2003 Sep 17;290(11):1467-73.

Another psychotropic medication (commonly prescribed for schizophrenia, but may be prescribed in some cases to help control the acute mania of bipolar disorder) that has been shown to help reduce suicides is clozapine. Read a news article about how clozapine might prevent suicide (BBC News, Jan 14 2003).

Always consult with your doctor before changing or adjusting your medication. A trained psychiatrist is preferable.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder Medications go to: http://www.moodswing.org/meds.html

The source of this article is XagenaMedicine and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Posted by at 10:50 PM | Comments (2)

Are Psychiatrists Over-Medicating Kids?

Many people wonder if psychiatrists are always correct in their diagnosis of childhood mental disorders. Advocates cite the fact that childhood is a difficult time of adjustment and that many of the disorders that have been diagnosed in children are actually just a result of normal childhood/teenage angst. Not that they believe that all childhood disorders are phony, rather that children at large are over-diagnosed and therefore over-medicated. Proper diagnosis and proper monitoring is required when anyone is seeing a psychiatrist, but especially for children because of the potentially harmful long-term affects that it could have on them.

Part of the problem could just be the fact that there are not many psychiatrists that specialize in children. "Using a single-payer form of health insurance, relying on a team approach for treatment, forgiving a portion of medical school loans to encourage students to specialize in child psychiatry and increase the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists, and a variety of other steps would go a long way toward addressing patients' problems with antidepressants and aiding their recovery" (Foskett & Whearley, 2005).

Some of those advocating a more careful diagnosis for children are saying that psychiatrists do not fully explain how hard the side effects could be on their children. One of such advocates is "Judge Erskine [who] aims her wrath at many of the medications given to children and teenagers diagnosed with mental illness. She has become an outspoken critic of the treatment young people receive. In her view, too many children become victims of psychiatrists who are too quick to diagnose, and too quick to prescribe powerful anti-psychotic drugs without making the patients and their parents fully aware of potentially severe side effects. The result, she is convinced, amounts to the 'medicalization of childhood behavior'" (Foskett & Whearley, 2005). Side effects are such a common part of taking medication that many people do not spend ample time thinking about them, or weighing the risks. But many of the anti-depressants and anti-psychotics drugs prescribed can give side effects that may be harder for children and teens to deal with.

But the positive affects of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics should not be undermined. Many people are able to live relatively normal lives simply because they are on these medications. What is most important is that we are not so quick to diagnosis people, especially kids.

For more news articles on Childhood Bipolar Disorder go to: http://tinyurl.com/dho68

The source of this article is the Telegram & Gazetter from Massachusetts.


Posted by at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Court Opened for Mentally Ill

A new court will be opened in Canada that will be specifically for the mentally ill. The court will open in the Waterloo region this fall and will be open half a day a week in the beginning. This part-time court for the mentally ill will benefit all of those with mental disorders who have had a brush with the law due to their ailment.

Most of the offenses that the court will deal with will be minor assaults, for example, theft or drug offenses. "While the mental health court will send some accused people to jail, Nicklas said its goal is to keep mentally ill people from languishing in jail and to link them to community agencies and psychiatric services to help stabilize them. They will be referred to agencies that will help them with housing, medication requirements and job searches. The court will be less adversarial than normal courts, Nicklas said. The idea is to have judges, court clerks, defense lawyers and Crowns familiar with issues surrounding mental illness" (Wood, 2005).

Many individuals with mental illness, who commit crimes, are forced into the courtroom which can be very distressing for them. Someone with a severe mental disorder is not going to be able to follow the behavioral norms that are insisted upon in court.

This will also help keep the mentally ill from just being thrown in jail. Some "studies have shown that 30 per cent of people in prison have a mental illness" (Wood, 2005). Many of them are forced into jail where they can not receive all of the mental services that they need to survive. Those with a mental illness should still be held accountable for their actions, but not nearly to the extent that those without a mental illness are. Someone with schizophrenia may not know that what they did was wrong or even remember it. What that person would need is psychiatric rehabilitation as well as the supervision required to make sure that a similar event did not happen again in the future. For those with substance abuse problems, they would also have some form of drug rehabilitation.

There are few courts that specialize in the mentally ill and so this is a positive step in the right direction. "The initiative is part of $27 million in funding the Health Ministry announced in January to keep people with mental illnesses out of the justice system. Another $125,000 has been received by the local mental health association to help pay for the court support services" (Wood, 2005). This initiative will not only help raise awareness for the mentally ill, it will also increase sensitivity to their plight.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder Advocacy go to: http://www.moodswing.org/advocacy.htm

The source of this article was Toronto Star Newspapers

Posted by at 9:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2005

Too Much Light is Bad for Bipolar Disorder

We have all heard of the benefits that can come from being around a lot of light, because with too little light we can sometimes develop feelings of depression. The best example of this is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Those affected by SAD relapse into depression every time we go into months that are filled with more days of darkness than light. Of course, where you live also affects when those months are and therefore, when your mood will plummet.

But for those with bipolar disorder the light may affect them in a completely different way. It has been stated that "'They can become overly activated, fully manic or what we call hypo-manic,' says Dr. Andrew Winokur, professor of psychiatry and director of psychopharmacology at the University of Connecticut Health Center. These people are more likely to engage in risky and inappropriate behavior as mania replaces depression" (Hathaway, 2005).

Although this does have negative implications for light therapy and bipolar patients, this does not undervalue the importance of light in a human beings diet. We are, as human beings, designed to be in the sun. If we were not, we would be nocturnal and sleep during the day.

As is noted in the source of this article, "suicide rates peak during spring in northern latitudes. One theory is that the increased exposure to daylight triggers changes in brain chemistry in depressed people that allows them to act on harmful thoughts. 'SAD is marked by a tremendous lethargy,' he [Dr. Terman] says. 'But then comes a transition period in the spring when there is an energy boost, and people become more likely to act on suicidal thoughts.'"

Despite the potentially negative affects that too much light can have on those with bipolar disorder, the importance of light should not be undermined. Many people react remarkably well to light therapy in which they expose themselves to a special high wattage light that makes up for the lack of light during the dreary seasons of the year.

For more information on seasonal affective disorder and the link between light and depression go to: http://world.std.com/~halberst/contrib/sad.html

For more information on the link between light and bipolar disorder go to: http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/darkrx.htm

The source of this article was The Hartford Courant

Posted by at 9:26 PM | Comments (2)

Diet lowers Depression

It is hard to believe that a simple change in diet could relieve (or lessen) the symptoms of depression that one has. Two of the nutrients found in nuts, fish, and beets may do just that. Omega-3 and Uridine have both been found to produce changes in rat behavior when they were put on at least 30 days of a consistently high diet in these nutrients.

The rats were put through a standard depression test that gave researchers insight into how the rats were feeling. "Rats forced to swim in chilled water with no way to escape will become hopeless and float motionlessly. But when treated with antidepressants, they remain active for longer, searching for an escape. A team led by neurobiologist William Carlezon at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital found rats whose diets were supplemented with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids for at least 30 days stayed active and focused on escape. Similarly, the study published in Biological Psychiatry found rats injected with high levels of uridine were equally tenacious. And combined doses of omega-3 oil and uridine were just as effective as three different antidepressants in prompting the rats to start swimming, Dr Carlezon said" (Burstin, 2005).

It is hypothesized that the nutrients act on the mitochondria in the brain. Mitochondria produce the energy needed for cells to survive. By giving more energy for the mitochondria you are giving more energy to the brain and therefore the person who hosts that brain.

But this diet has not only given another weapon against depression and bipolar disorder it also has been linked to helping in other brain function disorders like ADHD and dementia. Diet has long been known to affect the course of a number of diseases both mental and physical. A diet rich in anti-oxidants can help fight against cancer, and a diet that is rich in fats and oils can help contribute to heart disease. This is only one more example of the biological basis of mental disorders.

Associate Professor Luis Vitetta, from Swinburne University's Graduate School of Integrative Medicine "said good nutrition, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, could ultimately have the same effect on the brain as antidepressant drugs" (Burstin, 2005).

The source of this story was the Northern Territory News from Australia.

For more information on how your diet can affect your mood go to: http://health.yahoo.com/health/centers/depression/2513

And for more information on complimentary treatments for bipolar disorder go to: http://www.moodswing.org/treatments.htm

Posted by at 8:49 PM | Comments (2)

Managing Bipolar Disorder: A Personal Story

Lori, a woman suffering from Bipolar Disorder gives us insight into how she was able to control her illness, instead of letting it control her life. This story is a great source of inspiration and knowledge for those who are currently struggling with Bipolar Disorder, because not only can we learn from other people's mistakes, we can learn from their triumphs. Lori says that she has been able to control her symptoms for the last five months and gives readers the steps that she takes to control her disorder.

The number one most important step that Lori has made is to take all of her medication at the same time on a daily basis. Sticking to this principle can be difficult at times, but it often keeps one from having a relapse. Her other main steps are to "go to weekly appointments with my tdoc (therapist). I go to monthly appointments with my pdo(psychiatrist), who is actually a pnurse (psychiatric nurse) and we talk for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes about everything in my life, sort of another therapy session with med management. I try to eat healthy. I try my best to get the same amount of sleep every night, no matter what. I have to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, including over the counter herbal things. I try to find balance in all areas of life. i.e. not all day on the computer, not all day doing any one thing, making time for everything. I keep busy and active. I try to get outside and walk at least once a day. For now I meet with a nurse three times a week to get my meds and have additional med monitoring. I take help when it is offered (something that has always been difficult for me). I recognize my limitations but also don't limit myself too much. That comes with learning about what affects my moods and when to worry and when not to worry. I keep in contact with friends and support people all the time and I am open to their opinions about how I am doing. I have learned that sometimes others see things in me before I do and to take their opinions into account without letting it influence me too much. I still have to think for myself. I attend twice weekly dual diagnosis support groups and have even been trusted with leading some of the groups. I come here for support and also enjoy my friends on another support forum" (Lori, About Site).

Lori has learned to be honest with herself about her disorder and to listen to herself; asking for help when she needs it. By following her steps Lori has learned to control her symptoms and to be happier with herself. Lori has also learned to become a better mother and a better friend to those around her.

I hope that Lori's steps give everyone some insight into their own fight with Bipolar Disorder, as well as inspiration from her success story.

Lori's full story on how she manages her Bipolar Disorder can be found at: http://bipolar.about.com/od/copingresources/a/managing_my_bp.htm

For more personal stories from people who have Bipolar Disorder or who have witnessed it in someone they care for, go to: http://www.moodswing.org/stories/index.htm

Posted by at 7:57 PM | Comments (2)

June 15, 2005

Wiring Could Predict Depression/Mania

Wiring patients could potentially predict everything from anxiety levels to bipolar episodes. "In a groundbreaking experiment at Massachusetts General Hospital, a handful of patients battling depression have agreed in recent weeks to be wired up for 24-hour-a-day, mobile monitoring of their palm sweat, heart rate, voice dynamics, movements, and location. The study aims to show that such measures can reliably reflect a patient's state of mind as treatment progresses, researchers say" (Goldberg, 2005).

This could greatly help in-patients at psychiatric hospitals that are undergoing treatment. They are currently trying to develop a way for this technology to be easy to wear for patients. Ideally the wiring would be able to show if patients were manic, depressed, or anxious. The system would also be able to tell if patients were about to have some kind of episode. For example, if you had bipolar disorder and you were feeling perfectly normal, the system may alert you that you are about to have a manic episode before you even begin to feel it. Someone who is unsure of whether they are feeling depression or anxiety would be told by the system. It could also help for those patients that have a hard time describing what they are feeling or who cannot. If you had a patient who was catatonic schizophrenic, they may be unable to tell you what they are feeling, but the automated system would be able to inform you.

One woman volunteered for the study when she was staying in the hospital where this research was being done, after a period of electro-shock therapy that was used to treat her depression. Before using the wiring it had been assumed that she was depressed and that this was her reason for not leaving her house. But the wiring helped discover that she was actually suffering from an anxiety disorder.

As wonderful as this new technology is it can not detect everything that one feels. "For all their computerized sophistication, systems such as LiveNet and LifeShirt are not mind readers. They cannot, for example, say definitively that a patient is feeling anger or happiness, said Lisa Feldman Barrett, a Boston College professor who researches emotion. Rather, they measure things such as levels of arousal and whether a person is experiencing broadly positive or negative emotion at a given point, she said. But even that crude level of detection can prove useful in research and in therapy, she noted" (Goldberg, 2005).

This amazing new technology will need to be studied further before it becomes a tool for psychiatrists and doctors to use for patients. It will also need to be made into an easy to wear format.

The Source of this article was The Boston Globe.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder research trials go to: http://www.moodswing.org/trials/


Posted by at 10:17 PM | Comments (2)

Antipsychotic May Control Mania

An antipsychotic drug named Amisulpride is customarily used to treat schizophrenia, but a new use for it may have been found. Studies to look at its effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder have been done, and the results look promising.

"The researchers treated 20 acutely manic patients with amisulpride in a 6-week study. A total of 14 patients completed the study. Two patients withdrew due to lack of efficacy and two due to side effects. Another patient decided to withdraw and the sixth patient was lost to follow-up. In the final analysis, amisulpride treatment resulted in significant improvements in standardized scales measuring mania and depression. Thirteen of the 14 patients 'were considered responders, as they achieved at least 50 percent improvement in their baseline (mania) scores,' Vieta's team writes. 'Remission was achieved by 10 patients,' they note" (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, May 2005).

Controlled trials still have to be done before the effectiveness of Amisulpride can be judged in treating mania. But if those trials go well, the drug will eventually be assessed by the FDA. After the FDA studies the effects on bipolar patients the drug may be put up for approval.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder medications go to: http://www.moodswing.org/meds.html

Posted by at 9:58 PM | Comments (4)

Florida's New Drug Plan

Florida has a new state drug policy that will start on July 1st. "To save $292 million in the state's $2.5 billion drug program for the poor and disabled, Gov. Jeb Bush's administration persuaded the Florida Legislature this spring to impose strict limits on patient access to mental health drugs. It includes making brand-name drugs less accessible and requiring the poor and disabled to start off on the cheapest drugs first" (Hollis 2005). The theory is that psychiatrists would prescribe the cheapest drug that could work for each mental disorder and test each one up the ladder until the least expensive one that helped was found.

Whether this law will only affect new Medicaid patients is something that has not been answered by state officials yet. But if the legislature decided to have the new drug policy affect current Medicaid patients the results could be rather unfortunate. Those who are currently taking the medications that worked for them may be forced to give up the medication that helped them most in favor of a cheaper drug that treats for the same thing.

"Before the changes take place July 1, the state's current list of about 3,000 available drugs will be whittled down by a panel of pharmacists and the state Agency for Health Care Administration, based on price negotiations with drug makers and the clinical value of the drugs. 'If access to these drugs is restricted, people are going to become psychotic," Symons said. "It's complicated getting the medications just right. With these drugs, they can throw a monkey wrench in the body chemistry and set off firestorms in the brain that take months to figure out.'" (Hollis, 2005).

This will be the first time that psychotropic drugs will be restricted in the same way that other Medicaid medications are. The amount of brand name medications will be restricted as well. Many think that this will actually cost the state more money in terms of psychiatric visits, multiple drug changes, and the potential emergency room crises that might happen for those forced to try a medication that does not help them control their disorder.

The source of this article was the Sun-Sentinel company.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder Advocacy go to: http://www.moodswing.org/advocacy.htm

For more information on Bipolar Disorder medication go to: http://www.moodswing.org/meds.html

Posted by at 8:26 PM | Comments (3)

June 14, 2005

Bipolar I Disorder Treated with Albilify

Bipolar I disorder now has a new medication that can be used to treat it. Although the medication itself is not new, its use for Bipolar I disorder specifically is.

"Less than six months after approving Abilify tablets and oral solution to treat acute bipolar mania, FDA approved an additional indication for the drug March 1 to treat bipolar I disorder patients with a recent manic or mixed episode who have stabilized for at least six weeks. The product is jointly marketed by Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co. and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.(otsuka.co.jp). Comprising aripiprazole, Abilify is indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia, acute manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder, as well as its new indication. Since its initial approval in 2002, more than 3.7 million prescriptions have been written in the United States" (D'Amore, 2005).

Bipolar I Disorder is a form of being bipolar that alternates between the full symptoms of mania, and depressive episodes that are either less frequent or more mild. Hopefully this medication will only further help patients with Bipolar I Disorder. The approval by the FDA will likely lead Abilify to be prescribed for Bipolar I Disorder very soon.

Before altering one's medication make sure to consult with your psychiatrist.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder Medications go to: http://www.moodswing.org/meds.html

Posted by at 9:32 PM | Comments (5)

Insurance forced to cover Mental Illness

Iowa has signed a new state law that will force insurance companies to provide coverage for mental illness. "Under the law, which was signed by Gov. Tom Vilsack last month, businesses with 50 or more employees that provide health insurance for workers must also cover treatment of biologically based mental illnesses. Those include schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizo-affective disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, pervasive development and autistic disorders. Not included are eating disorders, substance abuse and attention deficit disorders. Iowa joins 46 other states that have adopted some type of mental health parity law" (The Associated Press, June 6, 2005).

The effect that this law will have on those with mental illness in Iowa is undeniable. Finally their insurance companies will be held accountable for illnesses that are just severe as the more accepted kinds, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. This also makes sure that mental illness will not be ignored any time soon.

Some worry that this will drive up insurance rates to the point of them not being offered by many businesses. But this is a threat that businesses have made in the past and hopefully has no basis in reality. If businesses stopped offering insurance coverage many people would look for jobs elsewhere or they would create such an uproar that the business would likely receive a lot of negative media coverage. Neither of these things benefit businesses in the slightest.

This law will probably benefit businesses in the long run. "Jim Collison, of Mason City, is the president of Employers of America, a national association for employers that has its headquarters in Mason City. He said employees who suffer from untreated mental health issues are less productive and more likely to have a higher rate of absenteeism. 'Any employer who doesn't understand this hasn't caught up with the 21st century,' he said" (The Associated Press, June, 6, 2005). By having mental health coverage for employees, more people will gain access to the mental health care that they need and deserve. Improving the mental health of employees can only result in good things for the companies that provide coverage for them.

For more information about Bipolar Disorder Advocacy go to: http://www.moodswing.org/advocacy.htm

Posted by at 8:16 PM | Comments (3)

Mental Housing Given Unwillingly

Independent living is one of the most important steps to full recovery after one has lived under supervised psychiatric care. It can be difficult to take that step when one has not had to take care of themselves for so long. On the other hand, many people who have lived in psychiatric hospitals recover and just need a little help to find housing and some support.

One mental health group has decided to take matters into their own hands and purchase an apartment complex for those who have a mental illness but are ready to live mostly independently. One of the new tenants is "Angel [who] is going to be one of the first tenants of 208 St. Andrew St., a four-storey apartment block the Shepherds bought in December with $3.1 million from Ontario's Health Ministry. The funds are meant to house 36 people with severe and persistent mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, who would otherwise likely be homeless. Many of them will also be recovering from the alcohol or drug addiction that frequently develops when a mentally ill person is attempting to treat undiagnosed illness on their own" (O'Neill, June 4, 2005).

The original plan was to use the apartment complex that was already filled with tenants gradually. As tenants left or their leases ended Sheperds' plan was to move people in one by one. But when the plan was announced to the current tenants they were not as enthusiastic about the project. It became a NIMBY campaign, or "Not In My Backyard". Most of the residents moved out which left plenty of space for Sheperds to move more of their patients into the apartment complex.

In a society in which mental illness is a stigma, it is not surprising that those in the apartment complex had some misgivings about the project. But the truth is that it would have been a gradual process and those who were going to be moved in were at the point where they were ready to live independently. Sheperds would not have supported the project if they did not think that it would have been a safe environment for their patients as well as the original tenants of the apartment complex. Everyone who has been moved in either has or does suffer from a debilitating mental illness, but they are at a point where they do not require supervision. This is quite a step up from living under the complete care of a mental health facility. But most people do not completely understand the difference and therefore assume that their apartment complex is going to become a psychiatric hospital.

On a more positive note, the apartment complex will now be able to house most of those with mental illness that want to build a new life there. The apartments are now being fixed up in anticipation of their new residents. "After the exodus at St. Andrew, Shepherds staff realized most units needed sprucing up. When bathroom tiles in one unit were removed for replacement, the mouldy wall behind it collapsed. The halls, painted lurid colours, needed toning down. The place now is buzzing with renovation activity, refinishing scuffed parquet floors, fitting the bathrooms with fans and new fixtures" (O'Neill, June 4, 2005).

Soon those with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder will be able to reside within the halls of 208 St. Andrews St.

For more information on bipolar advocacy go to: http://www.moodswing.org/advocacy.htm

Posted by at 6:53 PM | Comments (10)

Controversy over Diagnosing Children Early

The argument over diagnosing children with a mental illness as early as possible has strong pro and con arguments. Those who want children to be closely monitored for initial signs of mental illness cite the fact that the sooner one is diagnosed with a disorder, the sooner they can be treated for that disorder. But opponents to this worry over what would happen if children were forcibly tested and medicated. As the Chicago Tribune states, "Critics say that such initiatives are what is truly terrifying. Conservative and anti-government Web sites have been buzzing for months about how such plans will lead to children being forcibly tested, unfairly labeled--and even drugged. Most of all, opponents say that watching out for mental disorders is the responsibility of parents, not institutions" (Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2005).

Another worry is of the stigma associated with having a mental disorder. It is difficult enough for teenagers and adults to deal with the social reproach that is associated with telling others about their disorder. Anyone who has even a slight remembrance of elementary school can remember how cruel kids can be to one another during that stage of their lives. Hopefully all records would be kept confidential, but the discrimination that could ensue by teachers, day care guardians, and the rest have left many skeptical of the benefits of mandated "mental checkups".

Another compelling argument for early diagnosis is that mental illness is treated best when it is caught earlier on. "As with cancer or diabetes, mental illness is most responsive to therapy when caught early, said Dr. Carl Bell, a child psychiatrist and president of the Chicago Community Mental Health Council. When left untreated, mental illness places children at higher risk for dropping out of school, substance abuse, criminal activity and suicide. School officials already patrol for everything from tuberculosis to head lice, and mental illness should be no different, he said. 'All they're doing is jacking it up a notch,' said Bell, calling this one of the most urgent public health issues of the day. 'We're at the point where it's going to become unethical not to do these things--just as, in 2005, it is not ethical to deny a child a polio or a smallpox shot'" (Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2005).

How soon this will actually be acted upon is arguable, but there is no doubt that it will be at the forefront of childhood mental illness advocacy within the next few years.

For more news stories on Childhood Bipolar Disorder go to: http://www.moodswing.org/bpnews/archive/cat_childhood_bipolar_disorder.html

The source of this article was The Chicago Tribune.

Posted by at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

Curing Onself through Writing

The Times newspaper in London recently wrote a story of a man named Jason Pegler who discovered that he was bipolar at age 17 and who is now 30. Pegler has had several manic episodes during this period and has spent more than a year in hospitals during this time.

Pegler wishes to break down the stigma associated with having a mental illness and found that the best thing for him was chronicling his experiences with bipolar disorder. As Pegler states in the article, "When someone comes out of the illness, their first thought should be 'Someone's going to help me', not 'Oh my God, I feel humiliated, my life is ruined, everyone's going to think I'm a loony.' Society makes people feel guilty for having a mental illness. I want to change that." Pegler is off to a good start. Having obtained a grant from the mental health charity Mind to publish his autobiography, A Can of Madness, he co-founded the first publishing company devoted to the work of people with mental health problems. Chipmunkapublishing.com, set up in 2002, already has a list of 31 e-books and 11 paperbacks. Earlier this year Pegler won a New Statesman Upstart Award for Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year, pipping [sic] Jamie Oliver to the post" (The Times, June 4, 2005).

Pegler says that writing his autobiography kept him from committing suicide. He believes that having a creative outlet helps in the recovery process. Pegler wants to encourage those recovering from bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses to chronicle their struggle through their illness, as well as the recovery process. Having any kind of creative outlet or hobby can help one maintain their health. Making sure to stick with it can be difficult at times, but the end result will make it all worthwhile. I would like to note that having a hobby may or may not "cure" your mental disorder, but it can at least assist in the recovery process.

Pegler's recovery story is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that he wants to put all his energy into helping others with bipolar disorder. As noted in this news article, Pegler "hasn't had a manic episode since then, although he stopped taking medication a year ago. He says he has taken control of his mental health and learnt how to cope with the early signs of a manic episode. He's given up alcohol, has become a vegan and keeps fit by playing football. He runs a youth soccer team in Vauxhall, South London, where he lives in a council flat, to help stop local children getting into drugs. 'It's a good job I've got all this 'manic' energy,' he smiles. 'I'm not going to say I wish I didn't have manic depression because that's who I am. I love life, I believe in myself and I know what I want to do. One million people commit suicide every year worldwide. I want to make it none.'" (The Times, June 4, 2005).

For more information on complimentary treatments for bipolar disorder please go to: http://www.moodswing.org/treatments.htm

To look at other personal stories of people who have bipolar disorder go to: http://www.moodswing.org/stories/index.htm

Posted by at 11:37 PM | Comments (11)

Brain Stimulation Alternatives for Depression

When one hear's about brain stimulation therapy they initially think of ECT or electro-convulsive therapy, but new types of brain stimulation therapies are coming out. They include rTMS, MST, VNS, and deep brain stimulation. Of course, all of these acronyms are meaningless without an explanation.

rTMS is repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, MTS is magnetic seizure therapy, VNS is Vagus nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation is just that. Although these procedures sound foreboding their therapeutical potential is undeniable.

In rTMS therapy "A magnetic coil is placed over the patient's scalp (specifically the left prefrontal cortex). The field passes unimpeded through the skull and induces an electrical current in the brain. There have been 62 published studies on 1,415 depressed patients showing 'a reasonable effect size.' Better results corresponded to longer courses, greater pulse intensity, and pulse quantity" (MacManamy 2005).

There are some side effects, the worst being unintended seizures. It is important to note that rTMS therapy is not FDA-approved and therefore is only investigational in the US. Canada has approved its use. rTMS is still being investigated for bipolar disorder.

MST or magnetic seizure therapy is another treatment for depression. "An investigational treatment, magnetic seizure therapy, uses rTMS technology to induce seizures. The effect is much like ECT, but because the current passes through the skull unimpeded, Sarah Lisanby MD of Columbia University explained at the APA symposium, it allows for more precise targeting into the brain. The aim is to induce seizures that do not spread to the motor cortex, thus sparing the memory regions of the brain. A study on primates showed better memory after MST than electroshock. Human subjects reoriented themselves much quicker after MST than ECT and experienced less retrograde amnesia. ECT had much better efficacy than MST in treating depression in academic settings, but was about the same in community settings. Dr Lisanby and her colleagues are currently experimenting with higher doses in primates"(MacManamy 2005). It is obvious that MST needs to be further studied before its effectiveness can be judged or before it becomes available in the United States.

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is the closest to becoming FDA approved for treating depression in patients who have had difficulty responding to less invasive forms of treatment. A device that is similar to a pacemaker is inserted into the chest and sends a current up a wire that is connected to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is located at the bottom of one's skull and VNS activates various parts of the brain from the vagus nerve.

One company called Cyberonics did a study on the effectiveness of the product and found that it only helped about 30% of the VNS patients. "Cyberonics succeeded in convincing an FDA panel that 30 percent was an excellent result in light of the fact that this was a severely depressed population that had failed on all other treatments. Despite concern about the underwhelming response and the nature of the trial, the panel greenlighted the treatment for approval, with conditions. The FDA, however, rejected the panel's recommendation, then later reversed itself on receiving more data from Cyberonics, granting "approvable" status, one step short of 'approved.' One public interest group is urging that the FDA back away from final approval" (McManamy, 2005). The side effects are not too detrimental to the individual and only include hoarseness and vocal hiccups.

The last form of treatment to be discussed is called deep brain stimulation. In this form of treatment "Needle-like leads with four electrodes are inserted into targeted regions of the brain, guided by MRIs. An extension wire runs from each lead to one or more VNS-like devices implanted in the chest" (McManamy, 2005). This form of treatment is already FDA approved for treating Parkinson's and the potential benefits it can have for OCD and depressed patients is being studied. In one study OCD patients developed changes of mood within a few minutes, and depressed patients showed similar results. The mood benefits that one can receive from this treatment go away when the device is turned off or if the battery happens to die.

All of these treatments have the potential to benefit certain bipolar individuals although most of them are still in the process of being reviewed by the FDA.

For more information on bipolar treatments that are non-medicinal (but should be used in addition to medication) go to: http://www.moodswing.org/treatments.htm

Posted by at 12:57 AM | Comments (1)

June 11, 2005

Bipolar Disorder confused with ADHD in children

Suburban Chicago News came out with an interesting story recently of a young boy who was misdiagnosed with ADHD with depression. At age 6 Dakota was suffering from excessive mood swings that were leading him to often engage in violent behaviors. His mother, Jodi Thoms knew that her son needed help, but she was unsure of whether his diagnosis was correct. Jodi was sure that Dakota did not have ADHD. Eventually she found out that her son had bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is often confused with other disorders due to the fact that it has many of the same symptoms as other mental ailments. It can be misdiagnosed as anything from schizophrenia to ADHD. That's without taking into consideration all of the depressive/mood disorders that it can be confused with. Yet there are several distinguishing factors that psychologists may use to produce the right diagnosis.

"Often confused with ADHD or depression, bipolar disorder is distinguished by a few factors. In manic states, a bipolar person's mind will race, often faster than the person can keep up with physically. He might have trouble concentrating or organizing thoughts. Sleep patterns will suffer. The person will want to sleep but won't need it. Teenagers with bipolar disorder may go days without sleep or need only a few hours of sleep a night and still be able to function, Sinnappan said. After a few days, the teen will become irritable and tired" (Kraft, Suburban Chicago News).

Distinguishing bipolar disorder from the many other disorders that are prevalent is an important part of the healing process. Once it is correctly diagnosed there is hope at the end of the tunnel for those who have bipolar disorder and for the parents of those undergoing this sometimes difficult journey.

"So despite the belief that bipolar disorder can't be cured, it can finally be controlled for some people. Dr. Sinnappan said it could take years of adjusting medications, but some patients go on to lead nearly controlled lives.'My fear was that he would never have a normal life, that he would never get to enjoy the things that other kids enjoyed,' Wieworka said. 'I didn't know how we were going to get him to adulthood.'

"I want people to know there is hope if they are living in the midst of it, that there is hope to some normalcy in life," she said. "They just have to hang on." (Kraft, Suburban Chicago News).

Make sure to have an experienced psychologist or psychiatrist diagnose your child if you think they may be suffering from bipolar disorder. Your clinician can help you develop the right treatment method for your child so that they can control their symptoms.

For more information about bipolar diagnosis and symptoms: http://www.moodswing.org/diagnosis.html

And for family members coping with having a loved one who suffers from bipolar disorder check out: http://www.moodswing.org/famcoping.htm

If you are in Illinois you may benefit from this support group sponsored by "Jodi Thoms [who]started a bipolar support group for parents of teens with the disorder. The group meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Monday of the month on the second floor of the medical office building at Linden Oaks Hospital. For information, call (815) 726-8355." (Kraft, Suburban Chicago News).

Posted by at 10:48 PM | Comments (2)

June 2, 2005

Bipolar Disorder Research Conference, June 16

International conference on bipolar disorder June 16-18 a forum for new research

PITTSBURGH, June 1, New findings in clinical and basic science research will be presented for the first time at the Sixth International Conference on Bipolar Disorder, June 16-18, among them results of a national survey indicating bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic depression, is much more prevalent than previously believed.
More than 1,000 of the world's leading experts on bipolar disorder will assemble in Pittsburgh for the most important international scientific meeting focused exclusively on this disease, which affects both adults and children, devastates families and work relationships, accounts for nearly half of all suicides in the United States and costs billions in medical bills, missed work and lower productivity each year. The Sixth International Conference on Bipolar Disorder will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, and is being sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Held every two years, the conference offers the only venue in the world devoted exclusively to highlighting new research into bipolar disorder. Scientists will present findings covering new approaches to diagnosis and treatment, advances in pharmacotherapy and neuroscience and the latest information on psychosocial issues, vulnerability and risk factors. A staffed press room will be on-site; reporters not able to attend the meeting may participate in press briefings via telephone conference call.

Among the research studies to be presented and featured in the press room are:

The incidence of bipolar disorder in the general population is considerably higher than earlier studies have stated, according to preliminary results from a national survey which also found bipolar disorder results in significantly less productivity and more missed days from work compared to major depressive disorder.

More than 55 years after the first modern use of lithium to treat mania, one of psychiatry's oldest drugs is being found by researchers to be the most effective solution for preventing suicide in patients with bipolar and other types of manic-depressive disorders.

With no gene for bipolar disorder yet discovered, researchers are, in the mean time, proposing a simple blood test to measure antibodies indicative of an abnormal thyroid condition as a way to help identify family members of bipolar patients who also may be at risk for developing the disease.

Imaging studies have found the region in the brain responsible for modulating task performance and appropriate response is abnormally activated in patients during mania, which may explain the reckless, impulsive behaviors that are typical during this phase of the illness.
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More information can be found at www.6thbipolar.org

Posted by szadmin at 4:46 PM | Comments (3)