By Briana Davis, Clinical Trials of Texas
SAN ANTONIO - According to estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 2.5% of the U.S. population has Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, is a mental condition that causes an individual to experience a spectrum of depression lows and manic highs. Manic (or mania) refers to a mood shift in which an individual may feel euphoric and full of energy. The extent of these lows and highs can vary greatly among individuals. Bipolar I, a subdiagnosis of Bipolar disorder, can be a turbulent and psychologically painful condition characterized by at least one or more manic episodes in an individuals’ lifetime.
Individuals with Bipolar I disorder often cycle between mania and depression. During a manic episode, a person with Bipolar I may engage in various abnormal behaviors such as rapid and loud speech, hyperactivity with a decreased need for sleep, inflated self-image, jumping from one idea to the next, recreational drug use, impulsive overspending and hypersexuality. In severe manic episodes, individuals may also experience psychosis, a detachment from reality which may lead to delusions or hallucinations.
A depressive episode may begin soon after a manic episode ends, or manifest several months later. A depressive episode is often characterized by feelings of low energy, guilt, worthlessness and a loss of pleasure. In more severe cases, suicidal thoughts and attempts may be present. Similar to manic episodes, depressive episodes can last from a couple of days to several years, if left untreated.
Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed through a psychiatric evaluation with a medical professional. Medical history questions and a detailed look at an individual’s signs and symptoms may result in a bipolar diagnosis. Medical conditions that sometimes mimic symptoms of bipolar disorder (e.g. lupus, HIV and syphilis) may result in a misdiagnosis and improper treatment.
Bipolar I disorder is especially difficult to treat, which is why it requires a lifelong treatment and maintenance plan, even during times when symptoms of the disorder are not present. Successful treatment plans typically utilize a combination of medication, psychological counseling and education.
There are several medications available to help treat bipolar disorder. Finding the right combination of medication is often a case of trial and error. It may take several months to find the right medication and dose. The most commonly prescribed medications are Lithium,Symbyax, anticonvulsants such as valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex (Depakote) and lamotriguine (Lamictal), antidepressants, antipschyotics such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal) and quetiapine (Seroquel) and benzodiazepines such as clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax).
Untreated bipolar I disorder can result in a myriad of serious problems that include substance abuse, legal problems, financial troubles, social isolation, poor performance at work or school, or suicide. If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is imperative that you to seek the care of a mental health professional.
Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. is currently conducting a research study for men and women with bipolar I disorder. If you would like to learn more about this trial, please call 210-949-0122 or visit us at SAresearch.com