Can early symptoms predict bipolar disorder? Evidence shows differing patterns of risk factors

Two patterns of antecedent or “prodromal” psychiatric symptoms may help to identify young persons at increased risk of developing bipolar disorder (BD), according to a new analysis in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

Early signs of BD can fall into a relatively characteristic “homotypic” pattern, consisting mainly of symptoms or other features associated with mood disorders; or a “heterotypic” pattern of other symptoms including anxiety and disruptive behavior. Environmental risk factors and exposures can also contribute to BD risk, according to the analysis by Ciro Marangoni, MD, at the Department of Mental Health, Mater Salutis Hospital, Legnato, Italy; Gianni L. Faedda, MD, Director of the Mood Disorder Center of New York, NY, and Co-Chairman of a Task Force of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders on this topic; and Professor Ross J. Baldessarini, MD, Director of the International Consortium for Bipolar & Psychotic Disorders Research of the Mailman Research Center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.

Full story at Science Daily

After searching 12 years for bipolar disorder’s cause, research team concludes it has many

Nearly 6 million Americans have bipolar disorder, and most have probably wondered why. After more than a decade of studying over 1,100 of them in-depth, a University of Michigan team has an answer — or rather, seven answers.

In fact, they say, no one genetic change, or chemical imbalance, or life event, lies at the heart of every case of the mental health condition once known as manic depression.

Rather, every patient’s experience with bipolar disorder varies from that of others with the condition. But all of their experiences include features that fall into seven classes of phenotypes, or characteristics that can be observed, the team reports in a new paper in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Full story at Science Daily

Psychologist examines methods of classifying mental disorders

Mental illnesses, such as major depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, affect nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many aspects of these illnesses remain something of a mystery, despite the progress made in understanding them by researchers studying these disorders in the last half century.

Even so, clinicians and researchers, together with patients and their families, have made significant strides identifying and treating mental illnesses. Two major diagnostic manuals — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), used primarily in the U.S., and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), used internationally — provide clinicians, researchers and patients a structured approach to diagnosing mental health. Further, the federal National Institute of Mental Health also uses a new framework for researching mental illness, called the Research Domain Criteria, or R-DoC.

Full story at Science Daily

Increased brain acidity in psychiatric disorders

Your body’s acid/alkaline homeostasis, or maintenance of an adequate pH balance in tissues and organs, is important for good health. An imbalance in pH, particularly a shift toward acidity, is associated with various clinical conditions, such as a decreased cardiovascular output, respiratory distress, and renal failure. But is pH also associated with psychiatric disorders?

Researchers at the Institute for Comprehensive Medical Science at Fujita Health University in Japan, along with colleagues from eight other institutions, have identified decreased pH levels in the brains of five different mouse models of mental disorders, including models of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. This decrease in pH likely reflects an underlying pathophysiology in the brain associated with these mental disorders, according to the study published August 4th in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Full story at Science Daily

People with mental illness reoffend less if on specialty probation

Each year, some 2 million people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are arrested for various crimes, inadvertently turning the U.S. correctional system into the nation’s primary provider of inpatient psychiatric care.

But an eight-year study led by the University of California, Berkeley, offers a solution.

Researchers studied the supervision and outcomes of 359 offenders with mental illness, comparing those who had been placed on traditional probation against those on “specialty mental health probation,” a program in which probation officers with mental health expertise use a more individualized, treatment-oriented approach.

Full story at Science Daily

Half of adults with anxiety or depression report chronic pain

In a survey of adults with anxiety or a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder, about half reported experiencing chronic pain, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The findings are published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“The dual burden of chronic physical conditions and mood and anxiety disorders is a significant and growing problem,” said Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author.

The research examined survey data to analyze associations between DSM-IV-diagnosed mood and anxiety disorders and self-reported chronic physical conditions among 5,037 adults in São Paulo, Brazil. Participants were also interviewed in person.

Full story of chronic pain related to depression at Science Daily

Parents with bipolar benefit from self-help tool

Online self-management support for parents with Bipolar Disorder leads to improvements in parenting and child behaviour.

That is the finding of researchers from the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University, who recruited 97 parents with Bipolar Disorder who have children aged between 3 and ten years old.

They were split into two groups, with one being offered an Integrated Bipolar Parenting Intervention (IBPI) online.

This includes sixteen modules lasting half an hour each looking at different aspects of parenting, supported by video and audio material.

Full story of parents with bipolar disorder and online-self management tools at Science Daily

Traumatic brain injuries may be helped with drug used to treat bipolar disorder

A drug used to treat bipolar disorder and other forms of depression may help to preserve brain function and prevent nerve cells from dying in people with a traumatic brain injury, according to a new Rutgers University study.

In research published in Scientific Reports, Rutgers scientists discovered that lithium — used as a mood stabilizer and to treat depression and bipolar disorder — and rapamycin, a treatment for some forms of cancer, protected nerve cells in the brain and stopped the chemical glutamate from sending signals to other cells and creating further brain cell damage.

“Many medications now used for those suffering with traumatic brain injury focus on treating the symptoms and stopping the pain instead of protecting any further damage from occurring,” said lead author Bonnie Firestein, professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “We wanted to find a drug that could protect the cells and keep them from dying.”

Full story of TBI and bipolar drug at Science Daily

Neurons’ faulty wiring leads to serotonin imbalance, depression-like behavior in mice

Columbia scientists have identified a gene that allows neurons that release serotonin — a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and emotions — to evenly spread their branches throughout the brain. Without this gene, these neuronal branches become entangled, leading to haphazard distribution of serotonin, and signs of depression in mice. These observations shed light on how precise neuronal wiring is critical to overall brain health, while also revealing a promising new area of focus for studying psychiatric disorders associated with serotonin imbalance — such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and autism.

The findings were published in Science.

“By pinpointing the genes that guide the organization of neurons, we can draw a line between changes to those genes, and the cellular, circuitry and behavioral deficiencies that can occur as a result,” said Tom Maniatis, PhD, a principal investigator at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, the Isidore S. Edelman Professor and Chair of department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center and the studys’ senior author.

Full story of faulty wiring leads to depression like behavior at Science Daily

Area of brain linked to bipolar disorder pinpointed

A volume decrease in specific parts of the brain’s hippocampus — long identified as a hub of mood and memory processing — was linked to bipolar disorder in a study led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The research was published today in Molecular Psychiatry, part of the Nature Publishing Group.

“Our study is one of the first to locate possible damage of bipolar disorder in specific subfields within the hippocampus,” said Bo Cao, Ph.D., first and corresponding author and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “This is something that researchers have been trying to answer. The theory was that different subfields of the hippocampus may have different functions and may be affected differently in different mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and major depression disorder.”

Full story of brain linked to bipolar disorder at Science Daily