Bipolar Symptoms May Soon Be Treated With New Drugs

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According to Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, bipolar disorder affects 5.7 million adults in America. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, new research may provide new drug therapies that could lessen the severity of bipolar symptoms.

Per Mayo Clinic's definition of bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive disorder), the disorder is "associated with mood swings that range from the lows of depression to the highs of mania." While bipolar disorder onset usually occurs when someone is in their mid 20s, it can also occur in children and older adults.

Some celebrities that have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Demi Lovato, Kurt Cobain, and Britney Spears.

Bipolar symptoms are typically treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, unfortunately, but Northwestern Medicine scientists have recently made a discovery using super-resolution imaging on the brain that could lead to more effective treatment options in the future.

"We knew that ankyrin-G played an important role in bipolar disease, but we didn't know how," said Northwestern Medicine scientist Peter Penzes. "Through this imaging method we found the gene formed in nanodomain structures in the synapses, and we determined that these structures control or regulate the behavior of synapses."

So what does this mean for treating bipolar symptoms in the future?

"There is important information about genes and diseases that can only been seen at this level of resolution," Penzes said. "We provide a neurobiological explanation of the function of the leading risk gene, and this might provide insight into the abnormalities in bipolar disorder." Put simply, with this new insight on brain functioning, improved treatment options are a real possibility.

Do you suspect that you or someone you know may have bipolar disorder? Mayo Clinic says that bipolar symptoms can include the following:

Manic Phase:

Euphoria
Inflated self-esteem
Poor judgment
Rapid speech
Racing thoughts
Aggressive behavior
Agitation or irritation
Increased physical activity
Risky behavior
Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
Decreased need for sleep
Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
Frequent absences from work or school

Depressive Phase:

Sadness
Hopelessness
Suicidal thoughts or behavior
Anxiety
Guilt
Sleep problems
Low appetite or increased appetite
Fatigue
Loss of interest in activities once considered enjoyable
Problems concentrating
Irritability