A new breakthrough in Bipolar Depression treatment could make a huge improvement in how sufferers are medicated.
Physician, Daniel Javitt, says that bipolar depression “is a hard disease to treat because even though people have been researching it for years, we just don’t know what causes it.”
This last Wednesday, a study from Columbia University may have helped crack the surface with their research. The study presents a combination of existing treatment and a new drug that when combined provide effective and longer lasting effects!
One existing treatment for Bipolar Depression is a drug called Ketamine. It has been a proven helpful medication for this illness but the problem with it is that the effects usually aren’t seen any longer than a couple weeks. This new study found a drug to pair with it that will prolong those effects.
- Eight participants suffering from bipolar depression
- Each given one of three familiar drugs used to treat the illness
- Four weeks passed and little to no improvement was seen in regards to their symptoms
- They discontinued use of those drugs
- Then the subjects were given Ketamine (and a day later were administered D-cycloserine*)
- The addition of D-cycloserine extended the positive effects of Ketamine for eight weeks
- Preliminary findings: 50% reduction in depression symptoms, 75% reduction in suicide risk
The research was lead by Joshua Kantrowitz who is a physician and assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. He summarizes:
“Bipolar depression is notoriously difficult to treat, and in the published ketamine literature, people tend to relapse within two weeks This was some pilot data suggesting that D-cycloserine may be a compound that can prolong the ketamine effect.”
In America alone there are over three million people suffering from bipolar depression. Sufferers are twice as likely to commit suicide and their quality of life is diminished when untreated. Between 25-50% of sufferers will attempt to take their own life. With the disease being such a prominent and common illness, it is important that these studies continue.
Kantrowitz understands the limitations of his findings since this was such a small study – and he had no control group. However, he is in the process of trying to find more funding to begin a larger, more comprehensive study. He says:
“I wouldn’t argue for people to run out and put everybody on this drug yet. I would argue for doing a future study.”
Developers of D-cycloserine are pleased with the promising results and give a giant thumbs up to the Columbia study.
* D-cycloserine is a drug used commonly to treat tuberculosis