In preliminary studies, the regimen, coupled with a psychotherapy program called RAINBOW, shows considerable success in alleviating the worst symptoms of the disease and enabling victims and families to cope.
"Bipolar disorder is often inappropriately treated," said Dr. Mani Pavuluri, director of the bipolar research program and the UIC pediatric mood disorders clinic, the only such clinic in the Chicago area.
"What's needed is a step-wise therapy that begins by stabilizing the child's mood and then moves on to address, each in turn, symptoms like attention deficit hyperactivity, residual depression and aggression that frequently accompany the illness," Pavuluri said. "Too often, children are treated first for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), resulting in a worsening of the mania."
According to Pavuluri, determining the correct medication for these children is crucial because drug therapies, such as antidepressants and stimulants, that are intended to alleviate symptoms can in fact trigger manic episodes, exacerbating the underlying condition.
Results of two studies by Pavuluri, one on her drug regimen and another on her RAINBOW program, will be presented Oct. 15 at a meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Miami Beach, Fla.
Pavuluri formulated her treatment regime for the complex symptoms associated with pediatric bipolar disorder based on theoretical considerations and clinical findings in the literature that tested individual drugs.
"The aim is 'prescription hygiene,'" she said, "optimizing the number of drugs and their dosage so that only those that are effective are used and those that worsen symptoms are eliminated."
The regimen specifies four steps: 1) eliminating toxic drugs, 2) prescribing drugs that dampen the wild swing
Contact: Sharon Butler
University of Illinois at Chicago