Bipolar Disorder: The Basics (August)

Date of Issue: 08/01/2003 | Volume: 1 | Number: 8

Issue Links: | Editorial Information

Can’t get enough bipolar disorder? Don’t fret--next month’s issue gives you more, with profiles of Lamictal, Trileptal, and Topamax.

In This Issue


Bipolar Confusion: Diagnosis Hints

Topics: Bipolar Disorder

Suddenly, it seems that everybody and their cousin is asking us if they have bipolar disorder. A few years ago, bipolar disorder was the ignored orphan diagnosis in psychiatry. However, now that various patented molecules have been proven effective, industry money is flying into efforts to publicize the diagnosis, and it's clearly working.

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The Incredible, The Amazing, Lithium

It's an amazing metal. Not only does it treat acute mania, prevent recurrences, and treat refractory depression, but when consumed as LiCl, it tastes pretty good on vegetables. Or at least it did before the 1950s, when it was dropped from the list of acceptable salt-substitutes for hypertensives because of a nasty tendency to cause toxicity.

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The Lowdown on Depakote

First thing's first. What's the deal with all the confusing names for Depakote? The basic, irreducible molecule here is valproic acid, also known as valproate, and the brand name of this is "Depakene", not Depakote.

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Expert Q&A

Dr. Nassir Ghaemi on Antidepressants in Bipolar Disorder

Dr. Ghaemi, I thought we could discuss this rather controversial issue of whether antidepressants (ADs) should be prescribed in bipolar disorder, particularly in light of the recent article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry by Altshuler et. al. (1).

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Tales from The History Of Psychiatry

The Lithium Story

The discovery of the therapeutic effects of lithium is one of the most fabulous examples of serendipity in all of science. In 1949, John Cade was a 37 year old superintendent of a psychiatric hospital in the Australian outback.

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Anecdotes From The Field


Dr. Carol Edelstein is a psychiatrist in private practice in Los Angeles, California, and has a particular interest in eating disorders. She describes a case below that falls in that vague hinterland between cyclothymia and bipolar disorder, type II.

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