Good old Thyroid Hormone.
Mental illness tends to be life long, and being diagnosed with one of them may feel like your life is over. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes sudden drastic changes in moods, behaviour and energy level. The disorder is life long, and its diagnosis may feel like a sentence at first, but it’s manageable through treatment.
Antipsychotics, mood stabilisers, and antidepressants are the range of medication used in the treatment of bipolar, depending on the type of bipolar disorder. The most common types of bipolar disorder are bipolar type I and type II. Type I is a sever shift in moods from extreme mania to depression, while types II is a shorter and milder shift in feelings from hypomania to severe depression which usually lasts for few hours or days.
The treatments currently used for bipolar disorder sometimes leave the patients with some side effects. But what if there existed a therapy that had efficacy and no side effects? Would we be willing to use it? Most clinicians tend to promote medication that has numerous studies proving the drug has efficiency even though it has adverse effects. Though medication such as fluoxetine and olanzapine are high-risk drugs, they are still allowed in the market because of the number of studies done.
Newest bipolar treatment
Still wondering what new treatment this is? Good old Thyroid hormone. Back in 1981, Dr Peter Whybrow had been doing research and alluded to a connection between the thyroid hormone, and the hormones responsible for alerting you of physical or emotional stress, catecholamines.
A relationship between mental illness and the thyroid hormone has been there hundreds of years. Dr Peter and his partner, Dr Michael Bauer carried out a study into how the thyroid hormone production correlates with the functioning of the brain and mood swings.
According to the doctors’ study on Adjunctive thyroid hormone treatment, they administered doses of levothyroxine higher than average. The administration of these high doses result in a higher quantity of the hormone in the blood hence are called ‘’supraphysiological doses.’’ The treatments were between 0.2 rag and 0.4 rag. His colleague Dr Michael Bauer from Germany used 0.5 Dr though such quantities were not allowed in the U.S. The doses administered were much higher than that used for hypothyroidism but not too high to cause adverse side effects.
The result of using the high doses of the hormone was that patients started showing a change in the psychological undertaking of the brain. These changes were observed by taking tests using PET scans (positron emission tomography scan) and checking areas of the brain that are affected with depression.
From the study, the test results clearly showed that the thyroid hormone dramatically affects the brain in the right way psychologically. As a doctor, you may worry that using such doses of thyroid hormone may cause bone metabolism. Dr Michael and Dr Peter checked to see if bone metabolism resulted, and they didn’t find any significant changes.
For patients with rapid cycling bipolar, their brain’s physiological response to the hormone was different from one who is healthy. They tolerate it better and don’t show any side effects such as arrhythmia, weight loss, or tachycardia. Therefore, the thyroid hormone though old in existence, should be the newest drug to treat bipolar disorder.