Bipolar Disorder Science News – National Institute of Mental Health Update

Five long years have passed and I have come to know bipolar disorder and the mania experience quite well. Though not my friend … it has not really been my enemy for a very long time.

Through the years, I have noticed more and more television commercials and print ads for medications of all types including mental disturbances. And as I review my own writings, I am reminded that we are fortunate to live in such historic times. Manic-depression in the 1900s’ meant that if you were stricken, you were institutionalized with murderers and the like. It was madness and mayhem as women were often abused by the very “caregivers” that were to care for them. Patients were starved, or killed, they were considered worse than thieves … they were the cast-offs of society. Science in those days included performing procedures like lobotomies on the mentally ill, it was another aspect of the horrific medical misjudgment and mismanagement of the day. Today researchers bring to consumers break-through science and as they discover the intricacies of the human brain they move revolutionarily forward. Knowing how the engine performs helps one obtain a greater appreciation for it. Today, patients are treated differently, medication helps greatly, and though we battle the stigma of title, patient … bipolar disorder (I,II,III) etc. we are ahead of the game. As researchers and scientists understand the clinical picture obtained from the information technology age of ours they will see clearly how the pieces come together to complete the puzzle. In this age of warp speed, we must only be ahead of the religious war to see our dreams come to fruition. Hollywood has made bipolar disorder a cutting edge illness. No longer the 1900s – it is 2008 and if bipolar disorder is the American buzz word than Hollywood has made the consumer an American icon.

There are many engines that pull the train of technology. One highly accredited resource is NAMI (National Institute of Mental Health). NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons living with serious mental illness and their families. Founded in 1979, NAMI has become the nation’s voice on mental illness, a national organization including NAMI organizations in every state and in over 1,100 local communities across the country who join together to meet the NAMI mission through advocacy, research, support, and education. NAMI does need funding to continue their research. Should you wish to register for the NAMI e-newsletter or donate for continuation of their research, you may do so at this address: [http://www/nami.org]. The following is an example of the wonderful work they do, it is discovery. The following is a recent scientific study as it relates to a subject near and dear to me: Bipolar Disorder’s Manic Phase:

“Faster-Acting Medications for Bipolar Disorder’s Manic Phase May Be Feasible

New Research Pinpoints Potential Molecular Target in Brain Cells” NAMI, January 2008

Scientists may be able to develop faster-acting medications for the manic phase of bipolar disorder, new research shows. Current medications take several days to weeks to work, during which the extreme mood shifts of the disease may cause patients to engage in harmful behaviors, such as risky health behaviors or spending sprees. Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, affects about 5.7 million Americans age 18 and older in any given year.

The faster medications would be aimed more directly at a molecular site on brain cells that current medications, such as lithium and valproate, reach through a slower, roundabout route. By targeting the site with a protein fragment they designed, NIMH scientists reduced manic-like behaviors and associated brain changes in rats. Jing Du, Ph.D., Husseini Manji, M.D., and colleagues published their results in the January 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

With further research, the molecular site could become a target for new medications for humans, or could point the way to other targets for new treatments, the scientists say. The site is an amino acid, serine 845 (S845), in the GluR1 subunit of the AMPA receptor. (See “About the Science.”).

The researchers also pinpointed a region of the brain that appears to be involved in mania: the CA1 region of the hippocampus, which feeds stored memories to the prefrontal cortex, the “active-thinking” part of the brain. Please refer to [http://http//www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2008/faster-acting-medications-for-bipolar-disorders-manic-phase-may-be-feasible.shtml] for the actual study.

In conclusion, this generation has come to know and benefit from more scientific discoveries than ever in the history of medicine. So it is with this knowledge that we must not forget our responsibility to contribute to further the cause. If in fact, 5.7+ million Americans’ will, at some time this year, experience a mental disorder, then it is our responsibility to contribute as we have done for the American Cancer Foundation and the American Heart Association and so many other fitting medical causes along the way. All very worthy causes, I beseech you to contribute as you can, to the National Alliance Mental Illness (NAMI.org). It is a fitting cause, it is a worthy contribution, and the science of the mind may someday be the difference between life or death for someone you love.

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