Bipolar disorder and depression are intricate and complicated mental illnesses which have many treatment options, ranging from talk therapy to psychiatric medications like Lithium and Zoloft and other psychiatric and chemically altering medications which are used to help correct the apparent chemical imbalances that they cause. Both disorders can be serious diagnoses which can have devastating consequences if left untreated. Bipolar disorder, by definition, is characterized in the DSM-IV as a mental disease which has several different periods within its course including mania (periods of increased energy or excitement) and severely low periods, which include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and suicidal feelings. The behavior of someone with Bipolar disorder can be erratic and even, at times, dangerous.
The medication Concerta (methylphenidate - extended release tablets), is a stimulant typically used for ADD/ADHD patients and has been introduced as a new method of treating bipolar disorder and depression. Concerta is a relatively new drug released on the market and can be taken orally and in a patch form. Concerta has both negative and beneficial effects and can affect those with bipolar disorder and depression in the following ways:
Concerta can greatly improve mood and give some bipolar people what they need to wake up and to increase energy levels. Increased energy can also help those with depression who are feeling low and need some kind of chemical "kick" which will motivate them to get tasks done. Although Concerta was designed for ADD/ADHD, the energy that it provides for those with those disorders was found to be equally effective for bipolar disorder and depression.
There have been great advantages to using Concerta for those with both depression and bipolar disorder because of Concerta's longer half-life (3.5 hrs) compared to other medications prescribed for bipolar disorder, like Lithium, meaning that Concerta's active ingredients will last longer and have more of an effect in the duration in treating these disorders. Concerta can also slow down thoughts and actions, which can be beneficial for the violent mood swings and imbalances that bipolar disorder causes.
There are some negative effects that can happen when a person with bipolar disorder takes Concerta. Because Concerta contains the chemical methylphenidate, it can lead to several serious side effects including the exacerbation of some bipolar symptoms because of how the stimulant affects thought disorder patterns. Since patients with bipolar disorder sometimes exhibit mood swings, the use of the stimulants can often make these mood swings worse. There have also been some studies that have proven that the prolonged use of Concerta can trigger mania.
Because depression and bipolar disorder can cause episodes of insomnia and sleeplessness, since Concerta contains amphetamines, it may increase the likelihood of having more sleep problems if you suffer from either of these disorders. Concerta can also cause a decrease in appetite, so those with bipolar disorder and depression should monitor their diet and pay special attention to nutrition while on this medication.
Psychiatrists may prescribe Concerta along with other antidepressants and other drugs which may enhance the effectiveness of Concerta. Adults with co-morbidity (depression with ADHD, or bipolar with ADHD) may be able to find more concrete results by using Concerta along with another tri-cyclic antidepressant. The perfect combination of medications may be beneficial to treating bipolar and depression as opposed to just using one singular medication.
Although Concerta is approved for use in adults and children, special care must be taken when administering Concerta for Childhood Onset Bipolar Disorder. Suicidal feelings and rage can be familiar symptoms and consequences for a child who is struggling with this disorder. It has been found that Concerta has sometimes led to exacerbating aggressive feelings and psychosis in children, since it is a psychostimulant. Concerta may not be as viable an option for children as it is for adults.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Or Hiltch
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