People with bipolar depression struggle with extreme shifts in mood that range from feeling incredibly active and capable to feeling unmotivated and incapable of even the most menial tasks. Bipolar depression can be so intense that it makes it hard to carry on normal relationships or maintain a steady job. Using the same antidepressants to treat bipolar depression as those used to treat unipolar depression is not always they best option. But living at the whim of crushing depression is not an option either. Where can bipolar patients turn?
Studies measuring the effectiveness of antidepressants in treating bipolar have yielded mixed results. In some cases using these medications has actually triggered manic episodes, and meta-data research has delivered conflicting results.
Chinese researchers recently analyzed randomized double-blind studies where bipolar subjects were given antidepressants but were not treated with antipsychotics. In this study review investigators saw no short-term or long-term benefits from using antidepressants.
Now those looking for relief from bipolar depression have another option. Latuda is an atypical antipsychotic first approved in 2010 for patients living with schizophrenia. Atypical antipsychotics were first introduced in 1990 for the treatment of schizophrenia because they provided symptom relief with fewer negative side effects. The drugs are also sometimes used to control manic symptoms for bipolar patients. In 2013 the Federal Drug Administration approved Latuda as a potential treatment for bipolar depression as well.
The medication should be taken with food and, like all drugs, its use does carry certain side effects. For starters, the medication is contraindicated for those with heart, liver or cholesterol problems. For those who can use the drug, common side effects include excessive drowsiness (22 percent) and an internal sense of jitteriness (15 percent). Both of these effects, however, can be managed through proper dosing. Other associated issues were nausea (12 percent) and elevated blood sugar (10-14 percent).
The drug usually starts providing relief within three to four weeks. There is no way to know in advance whether or not Latuda will work for every patient, but results so far are promising. The biggest drawback to this new medication is its high cost. The company which manufactures Latuda does offer a savings plan that could reduce patient co-pays.
Latuda may not be the magic bullet for bipolar depression, but for many it could be the relief so many have been waiting for. Bipolar patients should talk with their doctor about the possibility of adding Latuda to their current treatment regimen.