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Drugs Being Studied for Bipolar Disorder in Older Adults

New research is being conducted to examine two drugs’ effectiveness in the treatment of bipolar disorder in older adults.

The study will examine the effectiveness and adverse effects of quetiapine (Seroquel) and lamotrigine (Lamictal) in older adults. Older adults are often prescribed these medications, but few large-scale studies have been conducted to examine the implications of such prescriptions. The studies are being led by Robert C. Young, professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and his colleagues at the Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“To date, most bipolar disorder treatment studies have been conducted in younger patients,” noted Young.

“In some older bipolar patients a good symptom response is difficult to achieve, and they often have recurring symptoms, disability, multiple medical disorders and increased mortality rates. We hope that findings from these studies will help physicians better manage the care of their geriatric bipolar patients.”

Eligible participants must be 60 years of age or older with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and currently suffering from symptoms of depression. They will be required to meet with a psychiatrist one day per week for a few hours and receive medication management from the treatment team.

Dr. Young and his colleagues are also continuing to lead another study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and now in its fourth year, comparing the efficacy of two commonly used mood stabilizers, lithium and valproate, for the treatment of bipolar disorder in older adults.

“We’ve heard from some participants in the NIMH study that they have gotten satisfaction in knowing that the findings from this important research may be of benefit to other older individuals — now and in the years ahead — who are similarly afflicted with bipolar disorder.”

Bipolar disorder involves periods of elevated mood — mania or hypomania — and periods of depression, or “mixed” episodes in which patients have both kinds of symptoms. Examples of manic symptoms are high levels of energy, going without sleep for extended periods, elated mood or irritability, and impulsive or reckless behavior. Patients may not recognize that they are having symptoms.

The studies are funded by AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, makers of the two medications being studied. Dr. Young has received an honorarium for a talk sponsored by AstraZeneca. The research is being conducted at the Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry at the New York – Presbyterian Hospital / Westchester Division in White Plains, New York.

Source: New York – Presbyterian Hospital

Drugs Being Studied for Bipolar Disorder in Older Adults

Psych Central News Editor

APA Reference
News Editor, P. (2018). Drugs Being Studied for Bipolar Disorder in Older Adults. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 22, 2019, from
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Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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