People with bipolar disorder face the lowest risk of re-hospitalization if they receive lithium treatment, according to a recent study by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The study, published recently in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, examined the risk of re-hospitalization in over 18,000 patients in Finland who were earlier admitted to hospital for bipolar disorder. The researchers used each patient as their own control and compared them during periods when they received treatment and when they didn’t.
In an average follow-up time of over seven years, lithium treatment was linked to the lowest risk of re-admission to the hospital for any mental or physical health disorder. The reduction in risk was about 30 percent compared with no treatment at all, the study found. Previously, the most commonly used drug for treating bipolar disorder — quetiapine (Seroquel) — only lowered the risk of re-hospitalization by a mere 7 percent.
“The prescription of lithium has decreased steadily in recent years, but our results show that lithium should remain the first line of treatment for patients with bipolar disorder. Long-acting injections might offer a safe, effective option for patients for whom lithium is not suitable,” said study’s co-author Jari Tiihonen, a professor at the Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience.
Digging deeper into bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a psychiatric problem characterized by episodes involving emotional highs. Generally, the way bipolar disorder manifests itself can be divided into two significant phases – depression and manic. In the depression phase, the afflicted individuals exhibit symptoms like excessive sadness, persistent gloom, erratic sleep patterns, drastic increase or decrease in appetite, suicidal tendencies and reduced decision-making abilities. However, in case of manic phase, people may display major mood swings, unpredictable behavior, irritable nature and impaired judgment, leading to reckless behavior and extreme risk-taking tendencies.
In recent years, incorrect diagnosis of bipolar disorder is becoming a normal phenomenon. With symptoms like unexpected mood variations, growing aggressive behavior and fluctuating energy levels, doctors sometimes wrongly diagnose bipolar disorder as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or major depressive disorder (MDD). According to experts, misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder as major depression is likely to result in a manic episode in the absence of an effective mood-stabilizing drug. Generally, doctors prescribe an antipsychotic drug or mood stabilizer, along with an antidepressant, to treat depression and prevent it from progressing to a manic episode.
Thanks to scientific advancements, there is hope because most forms of bipolar disorders can be treated with positive outcomes. Spreading awareness about the condition and its consequences is the key to combating the disorder because individuals themselves should be aware of the warning signs of a possible case of bipolar disorder. Additionally, government organizations and health care providers should focus on introducing stress awareness and resilience-building programs to foster positivity and a healthy mind nationwide.
Bipolar disorders are treatable
Fluctuating moods are an inevitable part of one’s daily life. However, if individuals experience abrupt mood changes, resulting in chronic mania and depression, it could be a classic case of bipolar disorder. The subsequent depressive or maniac episodes prevent afflicted individuals from performing mundane routine chores essential for leading a normal life. Such manifestations could eventually end up as lifelong mental health conditions, making matters complicated for patients struggling with the malaise.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans every year. However, timely screening for symptoms of bipolar and professional intervention can bring the much needed relief to patients and prevent further damage to their physical and mental health.
If you or your loved one is struggling with the condition, contact Sovereign Health of California that offers evidence-based treatment for bipolar disorder. Clinicians at our world-class bipolar disorder treatment centers in California are trained to identify the underlying causes and prescribe customized treatment as well as group psychotherapy based on a patient’s requirements. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives for more information on our treatment programs.