Brain booster for bipolar disorder

by Mandi O'garretty
Brain
Credit: University of Wisconsin and Michigan State Comparative Mammalian Brain Collections and the National Museum of Health and Medicine

(Medical Xpress)—Providing the brain with an energy boost could be a new way to treat bipolar depression.

Deakin University's IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, in partnership with Barwon Health, is undertaking a world-first trial combining a drug used to treat paracetamol overdose with nutraceuticals as a potential new treatment for bipolar .

Bipolar disorder affects functioning of the brain, causing people to experience extreme high (mania) or low (depression) moods. People with bipolar disorder spend three times longer in the depressive phase than in the manic phase, and existing treatments often do not lead to full recovery.

"Bipolar disorder seems to be a disorder of energy; too little in depression and too much in mania," said Professor Michael Berk, who is leading the study. "This suggests that if we can usefully target energy, we might help depression in bipolar disorder."

The Geelong scientists are trialing a treatment that involves a compound called N-acetyl cysteine, known as NAC, in combination with other potentially energy-boosting supplements.

NAC has traditionally been used as a treatment for an overdose of paracetamol. It has also previously been found to be beneficial for people with schizophrenia and partially effective for people with .

NAC is thought to reduce the effect of underlying physical brain changes that occur in bipolar depression.

"We know that during bipolar depression, changes happen which affect the body's ability to detoxify certain compounds. We also know that mitochondria, the cells' energy producers, don't work in the usual way," Professor Berk said. "The NAC and the combination of supplements that we're trialing work on both of these problems at once, which could lead to quicker recovery."

The researchers are now seeking volunteers for the trial who are over 18 years of age, have a diagnosis of and are currently experiencing symptoms of depression.

The study requires people to attend seven interviews over the course of the 20-week study. At each visit, a researcher will discuss participant's symptoms and overall experiences while on the study.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study explores bipolar in postpartum period

Nov 08, 2013

Researchers have long connected mood disorders and pregnancy. But a study coming out of Western is boiling down some of the specifics, suggesting women who suffered from depression prior to pregnancy should be monitored for ...

Can proper nutrition regulate mood swings?

Jan 23, 2013

In a new study, preliminary data yields conflicting but mainly positive evidence for the use of n–3 fatty acids and chromium in the treatment of bipolar depression. Limited evidence found that inositol may be helpful for ...

Lawson researcher sings the baby blues

Aug 22, 2012

The impact of bipolar disorder during pregnancy has been hotly contended among the research community. Now, a new study from Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University is sorting out the debate and calling for ...

Recommended for you

Family dinners reduce effects of cyberbullying in adolescents

5 hours ago

Sharing regular family meals with children may help protect them from the effects of cyberbullying, according to a study by McGill professor Frank Elgar, Institute for Health and Social Policy. Because family meal times represent ...

The Edwardians were also fans of brain training

11 hours ago

Brain-training programmes are all the rage. They are part of a growing digital brain-health industry that earned more than US$1 billion in revenue in 2012 and is estimated to reach US$6 billion by 2020. The extent to which they actually improve brain function re ...

Report advocates improved police training

Aug 29, 2014

A new report released yesterday by the Mental Health Commission of Canada identifies ways to improve the mental health training and education that police personnel receive.

User comments