The antipsychotic drug Seroquel may improve not only symptoms in people with Bipolar disorder, but also their quality of life, researchers report at the meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.
People with the condition swing between bouts of severe depression and periods of manic euphoria. Treating the symptoms and enhancing quality of life has been one of the challenges for this disorder.
Patients on lithium, for example, may have their symptoms controlled with the drug, but because it leaves many patients feeling flat, or zombie-like, some discontinue the medication.
In her presentation, Dr. Jean Endicott of Columbia University in New York said 180 bipolar patients were given a 600-milligram dose of Seroquel daily, 181 received a 300-milligram daily dose, and another 181 were given an inactive placebo.
Quality of life was evaluated using a standard 16-item questionnaire at the start of the study, after four weeks, and after eight weeks. Participants on the higher dose of Seroquel experienced a 21 percent improvement on average, those on the lower dose had a 19 percent improvement, and the placebo group had an 11 percent improvement.
“It shows quality of life improved very early,” Endicott said.
She said she hopes studies like this will encourage doctors to “pay attention to the quality of life” of their bipolar patients - to draw them out to learn if they feel like their old selves, or whether they are enjoying their leisure time.
Asking such questions has not been a routine part of psychiatric practice for many doctors until recently, Endicott said, but now there is a movement to introduce measures of quality of life into medical practice for all psychiatric disorders.
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD