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What’s New With Bipolar Research?

by Pastor Rick Qualls

I was diagnosed and began treatment for bipolar about 12 years ago.

Today my treatment is a drug cocktail that helps manage my disease,. It is a mixture of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anti-psychotics. It took several years of trial and experimentation to find the drugs that worked together to establish a treatment regimen.

There is exciting research being done in bipolar treatment today.

Development of new mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotics are giving more options. Other methods use nerve simulation, genomics, and proteomics.

Recent research shows that light therapy can be effective in bipolar treatment. However, unlike other disorders using light treatment, the most effective times for bipolar therapy is between noon and 2:30 pm. It becomes effective in the fourth to sixth week.

Using genetics to test bipolar treatments have also been developed. With simple saliva tests, genetic markers are identified and matched with the meds most effective for those markers. Sometimes the markers are compared to a similar population to identify effective meds.

Proteomics refers to the use of various proteins used as biomarkers for identifying bipolar disorder and effective treatments.

Research with various types of nerve stimulation continue to be developed.

Electro-convulsive-therapy (ECT) has long been used and found to be helpful in the treatment of resistant depression.

Other types of nerve stimulation are specialized MRI’s. Use of low-frequency magnetic stimulation also has positive effects of resistant depression.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation is an invasive procedure. A stimulator is planted under the skin sends electrical impulses to the vagus nerve which carries messages to the areas of the brain involved in mood regulation.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation uses magnetic pulses which can be targeted to specific sites in the brain. Similar to ECT, it is believed that targeting specific sites may minimize ECT like side effects.

One is of research for bipolar disorder is in the area of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress markers which show heightened levels in bipolar patients.

Inflammatory responses are another area of research. Like oxidative stress, inflammatory markers also are high in bipolar illness.

I am not a physician, just a fellow bipolar patient. But reading about the research helps improve my attitude toward my disease. This article is just for information and exploration only.

As a pastor one of the scripture verses that come to mind is Psalms 139: 13-14 “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

We indeed are complex and can be grateful that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

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Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a non-profit ministry funded solely by individual contributions.  We hope if you have benefited from our resources that you will consider giving a donation to help us continue our work.

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