Wednesday, September 5, 2007

bipolar press

It's been a good and bad week in the bipolar press.

An MSNBC article describes hopeful information about developing treatments such as motion sickness patches. Using these patches seems an apt approach. The symptoms are roughly comparable: instability, lack of balance. The article also provides a reminder of the tremendous limitations of current treatment.

The MSNBC article states, "A study of treated patients published last year found that about 60 percent got well for at least eight weeks, but only half of that group remained well when followed for up to two years." Depending on what qualifies as "well," I am beating the odds so far, a fortunate member of the 30 % who is holding with fairly minor fluctations.

Even when stabilized on medications, though, I have the inevitable side effects. Three years after quitting Depakote, I've lost 80 pounds, but I'm still 15 pounds away from getting back to my weight before I started it. Now, I'm engaged in some Faustian arm wrestling with my current medication, Lamictal. Whenever I increase it, which will be necessary as time goes on, my skin breaks out severely. Dermatologists try to prescribe acne medication that interacts with my mood medications, or they offer hormonal birth control, which could destabilize my mood entirely. A little acne isn't the main problem, though. Whenever I have the tiniest rash, I have to fear for Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, an FDA black box side effect that was depicted in a Washington Post article this week. The article refers to an interaction with a different type of drug.

I hope I continue to be a member of that fortunate 30% for awhile, though it's likely that I have a medication switch in the reasonably near future. The FDA won't approve new treatments for a very long time, but I'm willing to get creative (and manipulative). After all, I am going on a cruise soon. Perhaps I need to see my family doctor for a seasickness patch . . .

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