Bipolar disorder is a mental illness affecting millions of adults and adolescents. Symptoms of the disease include both mania—unnatural euphoria or energy—and depression. Individuals with bipolar disorder move between these two extremes at varying intervals. Some people may experience only a few episodes of mania or depression each year, while others seesaw between manic and depressed several times a day. Because the symptomatic expression of the disease is so perplexing, treatment is often quite complicated. No single psychotropic medication has proven itself especially effective at both calming mania and alleviating depression. The medical records of bipolar individuals bear out the complex treatment approaches. According to Bowden (2011), individuals diagnosed with bipolar are prescribed an average of three concurrent psychotropic medications to manage their symptoms. Ideally, patients would not need to take such a smorgasbord of medications in order to feel better.
Several recent studies have analyzed the effectiveness of Geodon (ziprasidone) as an adjunctive treatment for bipolar disorder. An adjunctive treatment is one that goes along with and enhances a primary line of treatment, in this case a mood stabilizer such as lithium or valproate. Most studies have shown a significant improvement in symptoms when Geodon is added as an adjunctive therapy. More important, the medication produces relatively few side effects when compared with similar medications. In the past, the preferred treatment combination was a mood stabilizer like lithium plus a conventional antipsychotic medication. Unfortunately, the conventional antipsychotics led to adverse effects in a significant proportion of patients. Weight gain and movement disorders were the most commonly reported issues with the previous treatment regimen. It has been shown that Geodon is well tolerated, produces negligible weight gain, and is unlikely to cause movement disorders.
When a mental illness requires that patients take multiple medications, finding the balance between optimum effectiveness and minimal adverse effects is extremely important. Bipolar disorder is highly unlikely to improve in the absence of medication and psychotherapy, but adverse effects such as weight gain may compel a patient to cease treatment. Geodon, a member of the newer class of antipsychotic medications, has repeatedly shown promise as an adjunctive therapy. With both demonstrated effectiveness and a low side-effect profile, Geodon may soon become a first choice for physicians looking to augment traditional mood stabilizers with an antipsychotic medication.
- Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/DS00356
- Bowden, C. L. (2011). The role of ziprasidone in adjunctive use with lithium or valproate in maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 7, 87-92.
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