Alternative to Lithium for Bipolar Disorder May Be Available Soon

As a Social Security Disability attorney, I have had and currently have clients who suffer from bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The “mood swings” between mania and depression can be very quick. Bipolar disorder is often a disabling condition when it is severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to maintain substantial gainful employment.

Possible New Treatment Option for Bipolar Disorder

The common and traditional treatment for this condition has been lithium. While treatment with lithium is effective for many, it often causes unpleasant side effects such as restlessness, thirst, and digestive problems. Lithium use also increases the risk of thyroid and kidney problems with prolonged usage.

Researchers have been working on new medications to treat the mood and behavioral changes associated with this disorder, and a recent study out of the U.K. indicates that an existing drug can provide relief without many of the side effects.

Researchers found ebselen, a drug created to treat stroke but that never made it to market may provide help. Ebselen is already deemed safe for human use. The British research team performed laboratory tests to determine if it would be an effective substitute for lithium. Researchers found that use of the drug could calm mice that were given amphetamines to create a state of mania.

With the positive results of the mice tests, the research team is moving on to a small trial with human patients. Healthy volunteers will be evaluated for any adverse changes in brain function when taking ebselen, and if the trials are successful, a phase two will begin with bipolar patients.

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