A new study regarding females with rapid cycling bipolar disorder shows promise but not without controversy. The study performed at the University of Texas at Austin showed that by adding the supplement levothyroxine also known as T4 along with mood stabilizers showed promise for decreasing symptoms and mood episodes in some women that were suffering from rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
The study was very specific as to which females the supplement would actually help which were only those that tested positive for antithyroid antibodies and were diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
Dr. Jennifer Jacobson, the lead investigator of the study, stated that if a health care provider believed a female was suffering from rapid cycling that the antibody screen and thyroid function tests could easily be added to the baseline lab tests and if they show positive then the supplement should be given as the patient could benefit.
On the turn of the coin, John Mann, MD, a professor at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center stated that the research was based on a small ideographic report that will draw attention to using the supplement, however, did not answer questions that are very important. He went on to explain that other studies have shown that when there is a deficiency of transthyretin in patients suffering from depression and it might be beneficial to add the supplement. However, there is no way of measuring this hormone in the brain to learn if there is any efficacy to adding the supplement.
He added that adding this supplement does carry risk especially if the levels of the hormone are actually in the normal range. He suggested before adding the supplement, health care providers should weigh all risks involved when considering adding Transthyretin for a treatment resistant individual in order to gain an antidepressant response. He went on to say the same for T4 as a stabilizer for patients that are not responding well to standard mood stabilizers or adding triiodothyronine in order to speed up the antidepressant response.
He did agree that reviewing the function of the thyroid should be included in the first evaluation to determine the best treatment methods for each patient.
The Findings of the Study
At the 2017 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, the findings of the study were presented by Dr. Jacobson. For the report, 1000 females were examined, but only six met all the criteria for the study. The charts of the patients were examined six months prior to adding the T4 supplement and once again in six months after the supplement was introduced.
At this time, the mood episodes were carefully examined by the severity of the symptoms and the number of episodes which were then categorized as full remission, partial remission, mild, moderate, or severe using the DSM-5 criteria.
Mood episodes decreased to 0.33 from 2.17 at the six-month mark after introducing the supplement.
The severity of the symptoms decreased to 0.81 from 1.59.
The severity of manic episodes decreased to 0.38 from 0.54.
Scores for PHQ-9 decreased to 6.58 from 10.56.
No bad effects were reported in any patients.
More studies need to be conducted to learn the overall health benefit of adding hormone supplements for patients suffering from bipolar disorder. It would be in the best interest of the patient to perform all testing before making a decision to add supplements.
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