A “one-for-all” prevention and treatment strategy might prove effective in many medical conditions, but it does not work well for certain diseases that require a more specific therapeutic method. That’s where a personalized or precision treatment comes into play, when clinicians develop interventions for a particular group of people with a specific disease.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), precision medicine is an “emerging approach” for disease treatment and prevention based on personal variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each individual. Personalized medicine aims to rectify past trial-and-error therapeutic strategies in order to improve treatment outcomes for patients. The role of precision medicine is particularly important in psychiatric ailments, such as bipolar disorder, which are associated with high risk of suicide.
While clinicians use a range of therapies to treat bipolar disorder, most of them have limited supporting evidence, low efficacy and potential adverse effects. “The difficulty is that the disorder is quite heterogeneous, so some people do quite well on specific drugs while others don’t…It’s not that you can stay with five or six medications that work for most people. The potential number of choices is quite high, and we have relatively little to guide us,” said Martin Alda, professor and Killam Chair in Mood Disorders in the department of psychiatry at the Dalhousie University, Canada.
Role of precision medicine in treating bipolar disorder
Many studies emphasize on treating individual episodes of mania in order to minimize severity and frequency of mood swings in bipolar disorder patients. Attaining mood stability in bipolar disorder is associated with improved risk of relapse, hospitalization and disability. According to a 2015 study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology, until now, the most reliable markers are derived from history-taking psychopathology. Therefore, there is a need for identifying new biomarkers and clinical markers to increase the outcome of bipolar disorder treatment, the study said.
Researchers suggest that over 80 percent cases of bipolar disease are attributed to genetic factors, which makes family history an important determinant of treatment outcome. Family history, for example, can help predict if a patient is non-respondent to a particular medication, which otherwise could be known after several years of treatment. “It would be much better not to have to go through these multiple cycles of trying this drug and that one until we finally see a response,” Alda asserted. He is upbeat about making progress with genetic markers as well as brain imaging, which could help predict outcomes to medications such as lithium and lamotrigine.
Dealing with bipolar disorder
Characterized by severe mood swings like recurring, interrelated episodes of extreme excitability and depression, bipolar disorder is among the major contributors of mortality and psychiatric disability across the world. People with bipolar disorder are highly unpredictable due to frequent mood swings. A particular condition, associated with extreme highs and lows, may be referred to as manic depression or bipolar depression.
Bipolar disorder generally develops in stages over years, mostly during childhood and puberty when preclinical symptoms including anxiety, impaired cognitive function and sleep disruptions may occur frequently. The initial episodes of depression may run for several years before a hypomanic phase completes the bipolar cycle.
In the United States, bipolar disorder affects an estimated 2.6 percent of the population every year, with 83 percent of them labeled as severe. In addition to timely treatment, people with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder need love, care and support of friends and family members. Notably, bipolar disorder can be treated through timely medical intervention. With right treatment, medication and proper care, bipolar patients can resume a normal life. Sovereign Health provides effective treatment and recovery support across its bipolar treatment centers in California. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online for more information on our state-of-the-art treatment facilities for bipolar disorder.