Two specialists, one Canadian, the other German, are united in the opinion that the current treatment for bipolar disorder is inadequate at best and detrimental to the health and safety of the individuals at worth.

Allan Young, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and Dr. Heinz Grunze of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany, agree that the methods used for treating those with bipolar disorder need to reflect a different approach, one that affects the 'whole person'.

'We need to look at patients [with bipolar disorder] in a wider sense than before,' Dr. Young notes. The predominant treatment for the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder is lithium, which many view as an effective mood-stabilizing drug. While it is highly effective in controlling the manic episodes - those euphoric highs bipolar disorder is noted for - and even as maintenance drug between episodes, it is not the shining star of drug therapy it once was. One of the problems with lithium, Dr. Young observes, is the continual need to monitor the person's blood for potential side effects.

In a similar manner, the prescription drug, valproate, an anticonvulsant medication, is seen as being less effective as it previously was thought in helping to treat the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder.

These descriptions, however, are typical of the current medical view of bipolar disorder. The focus of drug therapy is on either the manic or the depressive episode. The drugs are then monitored solely on their effectiveness for eliminating the symptoms. The drug's effects on the actual person who has bipolar disorder is rarely taken into account. Seldom does the medical community both to review the individual with bipolar disorder to see how he is coping in real life situations.

In fact, Dr. Young says and Dr. Grunze agrees, that a functional recovery has been the singular aspect of bipolar disorder that has been neglected by the medical community. 'We need to look at patients [with bipolar disorder],' Young explains, 'in a wider sense than before. The field of psychiatry is only now waking up to the idea that there is a dire need to evaluate the results of drug therapies from other perspectives. Merely the absence of manic or depressive episodes is not the ultimate definition of freedom from bipolar disorder.

Young and Grunze would like more doctors to seriously review all aspects of drug treatments for bipolarbipolar disorder is experiencing, as well as the side effects the medications have on these individuals. 'It is these kinds of assessments that can better highlight when treatment [for bipolar disorder] is falling short of providing therapy for the patient as a whole,' Young said. disorder . This means, they explain, that in addition to the goal of eliminating episodic outbursts, other issues are as crucially important. They include the drugs' effects on neurocognitive functioning, the quality of life the person with

He explained that only when every aspect of bipolar disorder has been addressed, then and only then do individuals have the best chance of fully recovering their abilities to participate in a healthy, normal lifestyle.