Groundbreaking New Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
January 3, 2019
There are 5.7 million American adults suffering from some form of bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression. This mental health condition is diagnosed when someone experiences extreme mood swings that involve emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression).
The depression is similar to someone who is diagnosed with major depressive disorder, involving sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in things. When their mood transitions to mania they may feel full of energy, euphoric, and especially irritable. These swings in mood can affect judgement, energy, sleep, behavior, and one’s ability to concentrate. Typically these swings occur rarely or multiple times a year. When the swings occur more frequently, with four or more changes during a year, it is called rapid cycling. This form of bipolar occurs for about 10-20% of those with bipolar.
A mania episode will have an impact on one’s school, work, and social situations often resulting in a strain on relationships. Some mania episodes may result in a break from reality and can require hospitalization. The general symptoms of mania include:
- Poor decision making- for example risky sexual behaviors, shopping sprees, or poor financial investments.
- Euphoria- an exaggerated sense of well being and confidence
- Excessive talkativeness
- Less need for sleep
- Elevated energy, activity or agitation
- Unusually upbeat, wired, or jumpy
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating, easily distracted
Depressive symptoms are pronounced enough to impact work, home, school, and social activities. A depressive episode would include five or more of the following symptoms:
- Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive guilt
- Depressed mood, including sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness
- Loss of energy or feeling fatigue
- Loss of pleasure or interest in any activity
- Sleep issues, either insomnia or excessive sleep
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Impact on appetite either significant increase or decrease
- Suicidal thinking or ideation
New Hope for Treatment
A recent study has made a groundbreaking discovery for treating rapid cycling bipolar disorder, with little to no side effects. Developed by The London Psychiatry Centre, the treatment applies precision medicine to psychiatry, that may be life-changing for those suffering from bipolar.
Traditional treatment typically involves administering three to four prescriptions, which often result in intolerable side effects. This study combined Rapid Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) with a high dose of thyroxine with was guided by targeted genetic testing enzymes activating by the thyroid. Patients experienced minimal side effects from this approach.
TMS is beginning to be more widely used for a wide range of mental health and neurological issues, while providing minimal side effects. The treatment consists of targeting specific areas of the brain associated with the issues it is treating with using magnetic coils to stimulate the neural pathways and help to “rewire” the targeted area of the brain. It is providing successful long lasting relief from ailments including depression, PTSD, OCD, and eating disorders.
The Founder of the Centre, Dr Zamar noted, “The biggest challenge facing bipolar disorder sufferers is the significant side effects burden which comes with traditional treatments. The discovery of this new treatment combination is groundbreaking for patients, their loved ones and mental healthcare, and we hope this will pave the way for a worldwide change in how bipolar disorder is treated."
“The discovery of this new treatment combination is groundbreaking for patients, their loved ones and mental healthcare, and we hope this will pave the way for a worldwide change in how bipolar disorder is treated."
The London Psychiatry Centre is known for its innovative work and pioneered cutting edge treatments like TMS to the UK. This treatment was discovered by Dr Zamar, along with Consultant Cardiologist Dr Roberts, and Consultant Endocrinologist Dr Lulsegged.
They noticed that most patients treated with a high dose of thyroxine showed a lag of activation of the thyroid hormone in thyroid function test profiles. This lead them to study the genetic coding for the enzyme, to predict and refine dosages and avoid side effects.
They discovered most patients had a deficiency of one or both enzymes needed to activate the thyroid hormone which helps manage mood. Their patients who received the combination of the high dose of thyroxine and rTMS reported little to no side effects, but saw an improvement in their condition, often after many years of unsuccessful treatment.