(dailyRx News) Continuing their groundbreaking research into the treatment of mood disorders in older adults, psychiatrists in New York are now studying the effects of quetiapine (Seroquel) and lamotrigine (Lamictal) on that patient population.
Although both drugs have been approved for aspects of the treatment of patients with bipolar disorder, to date research into their effects on older adults with bipolar depression has been limited.
The studies are being led by Dr. Robert C. Young, professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and his colleagues at the Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division in White Plains, New York. With more than 30 years of clinical and research experience, Dr. Young's focus has been to develop information that can improve the treatment of older adults suffering severe mood disorders.
Dr. Young said, "To date, most bipolar disorder treatment studies have been conducted in younger patients. In some older bipolar patients a good symptom response is difficult to achieve, and they often have recurring symptoms, disability, multiple medical disorders and increased mortality rates. We hope that findings from these studies will help physicians better manage the care of their geriatric bipolar patients."
Eligible participants must be 60 years of age or older with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and currently suffering from symptoms of depression. They will be required to meet with a psychiatrist one day per week for a few hours and receive medication management from the treatment team.
Dr. Young and his colleagues are also continuing to lead another study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and now in its fourth year, comparing the efficacy of two commonly used mood stabilizers, lithium and valproate, for treating bipolar disorder in older adults. To date, more than 140 individuals in six study sites across the U.S. have participated.
Dr. Young added, "We've heard from some participants in the NIMH study that they have gotten satisfaction in knowing that the findings from this important research may be of benefit to other older individuals--now and in the years ahead--who are similarly afflicted with bipolar disorder."
Bipolar disorder involves periods of elevated mood (mania or hypomania) and periods of depression or mixed episodes in which patients have both kinds of symptoms. Examples of manic symptoms are high levels of energy, going without sleep for extended periods, elated mood or irritability and impulsive or reckless behavior. Patients may not recognize they are having symptoms.
The studies are funded by AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Seroquel and Lamictal, respectively. Dr. Young has received an honorarium for a talk sponsored by AstraZeneca.
Eliza Whoriskey O'Neill