December 27

Activity Boosts Mood in Adults With Bipolar Disorder

Increasing physical activity appears to boost mood and energy in adults—especially so in those with bipolar I disorder, according to a study published online in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study focused on a community sample of 242 men and women, including 25 people with bipolar I disorder, 29 with bipolar II disorder, 91 with major depressive disorder, and 97 control subjects with no history of a mood disorder. Researchers used activity trackers to measure physical activity and electronic diaries to assess perceived energy levels and mood over 2 weeks. Participants rated their mood and energy levels 4 times a day (morning, lunchtime, dinnertime, and before bed) using seven-point scales that spanned “very happy” to “very sad” and “very tired” to “very energetic.”

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December 27

Scientists Find A Brain Circuit That Could Explain Seasonal Depression

Just in time for the winter solstice, scientists may have figured out how short days can lead to dark moods.

Two recent studies suggest the culprit is a brain circuit that connects special light-sensing cells in the retina with brain areas that affect whether you are happy or sad.

When these cells detect shorter days, they appear to use this pathway to send signals to the brain that can make a person feel glum or even depressed.

“It’s very likely that things like seasonal affective disorder involve this pathway,” says Jerome Sanes, a professor of neuroscience at Brown University.

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November 29

Bright light therapy for bipolar depression

Bright light therapy (BLT) refers to the use of bright light to treat symptoms of depression. BLT was initially prescribed as a treatment for patients with seasonal affective disorder.1 It was later found helpful for nonseasonal depression,2 premenstrual dysphoric disorder, postpartum depression, and phase shift circadian disorders, including for patients with dementia whose cognitive function improved after treatment with BLT.3 More recent studies suggest year-round benefit for nonseasonal depression.2 The American Psychiatric Association practice guidelines for the treatment of depression list BLT as an alternative and/or addition to pharmacologic and psychological treatment.4 BLT also may be beneficial for patients who are in the depressive phase of bipolar illness.

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October 30

Should Antidepressants Be Used in Bipolar Depression? A Pro-Con Debate

At Psych Congress 2018, 2 experts in the field of psychiatry squared off in a session called “The Great Debate in Contemporary Psychiatry: The Use of Antidepressants in Bipolar Disorder,” about whether antidepressants should be used to treat patients with bipolar depression.

Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry at Tufts University, presented the “con” side of the argument, while Joseph F. Goldberg, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, presented the arguments “for” using antidepressants.

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October 8

Diet and weight may affect response to bipolar disorder treatment

Data from a clinical trial has shown that how people respond to treatment for Bipolar Disorder may be influenced by their weight and the overall quality of their diet, including whether they are eating a diet high in foods thought to contribute to general inflammation. These are early results, but if replicated may mean that treatment of some mental health problems could benefit from the inclusion of dietary advice.

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August 16

Herpesvirus may lead to bipolar, depression

Scientists have discovered the human herpesvirus HHV-6 in the neurons of people who lived with bipolar or severe depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 4.4 percent of the population of the United States will have bipolar disorder at one point in their lives.

While the precise causes of such, often debilitating, psychiatric conditions remain unknown, scientists do know that both genes and the environment play a role.

For instance, a recent study identified 44 genetic loci thought to raise the risk of depression, while another has suggested that 80 percent of schizophrenia risk can be attributed to genes.

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August 2

Comorbid Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse: A Challenge to Diagnose and Treat

Comorbid bipolar disorder and substance use disorder are frequently the rule rather than the exception.1 Bipolar disorder has among the highest rates of comorbidities, including anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, impulse control disorders, eating disorders, cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, and sleep apnea.1 Not only are comorbid bipolar disorder and substance use disorder difficult to manage, but they also increase a patient’s likelihood for chronic infectious diseases, injury, and suicide.1

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July 6

The Effects of Sleep Loss on the Risk for Postpartum Psychosis in Bipolar Disorder

The perinatal period is associated with increased vulnerability to new-onset severe mental illness. Postpartum psychosis, for example, affects an estimated 1 in 1000 parous women in the general population and 20% to 30% of those with bipolar disorder. Research investigating the etiology of postpartum psychosis has identified immune dysregulation, genetic factors, and primiparity as potential factors.

Click here to read the full article.