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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Although I am helping my son put things in place to try and

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Although I am helping my son put things in place to try and manage his bipolar disorder to the best of his ability, I do wonder if there is any hope for better treatments or medications in the future. Would the most likely hope to be medications that work even better than the present ones with fewer side effects or could there be other possibilities? How does one keep informed of any new advances made, in the US or other countries?

Hi. There are no "blockbuster" BD drugs currently in the pipeline that I'm aware of. But one thing that I would be very skeptical about is any drug that promised to take care of a mental health problem without any significant side effects or downside.

The human brain is so complex that it makes other organs seem like kindergarten while the brain is like graduate school. Take diabetes, for example. It is indeed a life threatening disease. But the variables are rather simple: the pancreas makes insulin or is impaired. A blood sugar level reading lets you know whether the insulin level is good or not. If not, a pump you would keep on your belt would pump insulin into your blood stream. That's it. And even with that there are complications! People wind up in the ER with diabetes frequently.

The brain is so much more complex. It does so many more things. It regulates, it activates, it coordinates, etc., etc. And thus, all the psychotropic medications, without exception, have some negative effect on some brain function. It's unavoidable. We are that complex.

My intention with that discussion is to have you be realistic. But you need to be hopeful as well. The medications like Seroquel and Depakote do have side effects and negative aspects, but they do so much more good than the older meds did. And the psychotherapies today as well are so much more specific to BD than the old therapies.

And this advancement will continue. So you are right to want to keep abreast of advancements. Joining two organizations will be a good way to stay abreast of new information:


http://www.internationalbipolarfoundation.org/

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home

The second one, the DBS Alliance has a listing of support groups. That's very useful. And even though support groups are groups of people who are not doctors or psychologists, they can often hear of new treatments that you might be able to check out with his doctors. One of my favorite online support group organization is a non profit called Daily Strength. Here are two of their groups, one for people with BD and one for family and friends of people with BD:


http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Family-and-Friends-of-Bipolar/forum

http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Bipolar-Disorder/support-group

Another way to keep abreast of news is to keep occasional watch on the NIMH, the government agency for mental health, and its web postings. Here are two of their sites to bookmark and look at every so often:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/science-news-about-bipolar-disorder.shtml

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/updates/bipolar-disorder-index.shtml

So, again, you need to stay hopeful and keep your ears open but make sure not to chase after untried and unresearched "cures" that his doctors don't support, okay?

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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