Bipolarlife Newsletter August 2018

Issue 104

August 2018

Bipolar Life Victoria

Upcoming Support Groups Meetings

click group location for further information

click group location for further information


Lithium treatment for bipolar disorder linked to lowest risk of re hospitalization

Individuals with bipolar disorder have the lowest risk of rehospitalisation if treated with lithium, according to a study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in JAMA Psychiatry. Long-acting injections of antipsychotics were also effective, reducing the risk of rehospitalisation by 30 per cent compared with their oral counterparts.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by alternating periods of depression and elevated mood (mania), and is usually treated either with mood stabilising or antipsychotic drugs. Lithium is considered to be the most effective mood stabiliser, but only a few studies have been conducted comparing the long-term effects of different drugs in bipolar disorder.

In order to determine which treatment is most effective, researchers at Karolinska Institutet compared the risk of re-admission to hospital in more than 18,000 patients in Finland who had previously been hospitalised for bipolar disorder. Each patient was used as their own control and compared during periods with and without treatment.

During an average follow-up time of more than seven years, lithium treatment was associated with the lowest risk of rehospitalisation in mental or physical disease, with a risk reduction of about 30 per cent compared with no treatment at all. Long-acting injections of antipsychotic drugs were also effective. The risk of re-admission was around 30 per cent lower if patients were treated with long-acting injections compared to their receiving the same antipsychotic medication but orally. The most commonly prescribed antipsychotic drug for bipolar disorder, quetiapine (Seroquel), which is given in tablet form, reduced the risk by only 7 per cent.

“The prescription of lithium has decreased steadily in recent years, but our results show that lithium should remain the first line of treatment for patients with bipolar disorder. Long-acting injections might offer a safe, effective option for patients for whom lithium is not suitable,” says Jari Tiihonen, specialist doctor and professor at Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Clinical Neuroscience.

The research was funded by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. No company has financed this particular study, but several of the authors are associated with and have previously received funding/fees from pharmaceutical companies in different contexts. Two of the authors are employed by the contract research organisation EPID Research. The scientific article provides more detailed information about potential conflicts of interest.

Story Source:
Karolinska Institutet

Journal Reference:

Markku Lähteenvuo, Antti Tanskanen, Heidi Taipale, Fabian Hoti, Pia Vattulainen, Eduard Vieta, Jari Tiihonen. Real-World Effectiveness of Pharmacologic Treatments for the Prevention of Rehospitalization in a Finnish Nationwide Cohort of Patients With Bipolar DisorderJAMA Psychiatry, 2018; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.4711


Bipolar Carers Group

Our new Bipolar Carers Support Group meetings are held at South Yarra on the second Tuesday of each month commencing at 7:00pm (except January) – see

Close family and friends (bipolar carers or caregivers) can be a primary source of support for a person with bipolar disorder. Discussions include ways caregivers can take care of themselves, deal with the bipolar disorder and the personal impact it has on them.

Next meeting: Wednesday 8th August 2018
Meetings are held at: South Yarra Community Baptist Church Hall Meeting Room

12 Surrey Road  South Yarra  3141

Enquiries:  9504 0033


Come along to our ART THERAPY class!

Art Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. You don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits. Don’t miss this opportunity!

All materials are provided and attendance is free.

WHEN: 7:00pm – Wednesday 24th October 2018

WHERE: Rowville Neighbourhood Learning Centre
40 Fulham Rd, Rowville


Looking for new ways of living well with bipolar?


If you are over 18 and have bipolar disorder you may be eligible to help us trial new, online self-guided interventions designed to improve quality of life in people who experience bipolar. We are comparing two types of interventions that have been created by international experts which both include videos, exercises, tools, forums and an online coach.

To find out if these interventions are helpful, you would also be asked to complete 4 assessments (which include a telephone and online component) over a 6 month period. You will be reimbursed for participation in these assessments.


If you would like more information about the research or would like to participate go to:


What self-management strategies do you use for bipolar II disorder?

Swinburne University researchers want to understand more about what people with bipolar II disorder do to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. You’re invited to participate in an online survey, asking you about what works and what doesn’t work for you in terms of coping with and preventing symptoms of bipolar II disorder.

We are looking for people who:

  • Have received a diagnosis of bipolar II disorderfrom a mental health professional
  • Are between 18-65 years old
  • Have a good comprehension of English

Participation involves:

Completing an online survey, where you will be asked some basic information about yourself, the strategies that you use to manage bipolar II disorder and promote good quality of life, and your opinion about treatments for bipolar II disorder. The online survey will take no more than 45 minutes, and you will be reimbursed $10USD for your participation.


If you would like more information about the project or would like to sign up to participate, click here

Our Stories

The Holes in my Pockets

In this piece, Camille reflects on some of the out there things she has bought while manic, as well as how damaging elevation can be to the finances.

About twelve years ago, I was standing in a general store in Hay, in New South Wales’s Riverina region, cradling a plaster of Paris budgerigar, which was painted in a garish yellow and green. It reminded me of the dearly departed Ruffles, my old pet who had lived an inordinately long life for a little bird, seeing me through all the way from childhood to adolescence.

Ordinarily, unless buying an ironic gift for a friend, I would pass over such a cheap, tacky piece of kitsch, but that day, I was sky high elevated and had to have it. I had been spending up a storm in the tiny town, buying books from the newsagent, a bright pink t-shirt with Betty Page on it from the tattoo shop, and even a broken watch with a yellow face from the junk shop.

Something else that happens to me spending-wise when I’m elevated is the desire to spend up big on gambling, lotto in particular. I become convinced that I’m going to win, and buy entries in all of the games – Set for Life, Powerball, Oz Lotto, you name it. Scratchies also provide a particular thrill of instant gratification. I’m especially drawn to them because of all the pictures and themes. “Go Bananas” was a recent favourite.

I’ve even had elevated visions where money is involved, where I felt like my dead uncle was communicating with me and telling me to buy his old house, along with the block of land next to my grandparents’ house in Vincentia.

That time in Hay, I went to a tiny travel agency and bought a ticket to the UK. I just had a hankering for the Mother Country and felt like seeing Stonehenge! I had no other money saved up for this proposed trip, and nowhere to stay. Unfortunately I used Mum’s credit card as I was an additional cardholder on her card. I think Mum tried to get the money back for the trip, but I can’t remember if she did or not.

Overall, I’m a generous person. I like to buy well-chosen gifts for friends and family, but when I’m elevated I go completely overboard. Concert tickets, gemstones with special significance and tonnes of baby clothes are some of the things that I have bought. While elevated, my mantra is pretty much, “money’s only energy man”… it gets stored up and then we expend it and hopefully make more. If I was to guesstimate how much I’ve spent during elevations over the years, probably $15 000 would be a conservative estimate. I’ve had to sell shares prematurely as a result of my spending, and take out a loan from the Bank of Mum and the Bank of Dad to pay my rent.

It could be much worse though. I’ve heard of people who have lost their house.

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from elevated spending. Once I handed over financial autonomy to Mum, and she kept my ATM card. But this doesn’t always work, as only I know my online banking passwords.  And handing over one card has not stopped me from ordering another ATM card against her knowledge.  In one elevation, I asked my parents to give me only $20 cash a day, so that I could still spend but not too much. Mum always says that preventing access to my money is one of the hardest things to manage, as the banks will only co-operate with the account holder.

xA friend asked me recently what I do with the stuff I’ve bought, and if I mourn the lost money. In previous elevations, I’ve mostly given the stuff away to friends or op shops or just put it straight in the bin. However, in the most recent elevation, during May and June this year, I spent most of my money on events and experiences and to be honest, I have zero regrets about any of that money. The plays, talks and concerts were a joy and a wonderful escape from my day job.

However, I also spent a lot of money on raffle entries and gambling, and while I’m still convinced that my ship will come in gambling wise, I do mourn the loss of that money. In two months, I spent all of my savings bar the small amount of shares that I have. That is a sobering thought. It’s going to take at least twelve months until my bank balance is looking healthy again, and maybe two years until I can travel.

Finally, as with smoking and eating junk, I ask the question of why? Why would someone who is usually frugal, on a low income and lives within her means suddenly switch to being a spendthrift? The answer is that when I am elevated my behaviour is the exact opposite of what I am usually like! So…maybe I should spend a bit more when I am not elevated?!


We need you!

If you are between 18 and 60 years of age you may be eligible to take part in important new brain research.

This study is investigating thinking skills and emotion in people with bipolar disorder. It will involve a brain scan and participation in a range of thinking skills. The tests will take place over two 4 hour sessions at the Advanced Technology Centre at Swinburne University, Hawthorn. You will be reimbursed for your time and travel costs.



“Come and join those with lived experience of bi-polar, as we battle it out over a range of board games.”

Place: Queen of Spades
189 Smith St, Collingwood.

Date and Time: Thurs 26th July, 6 – 8pm
Entry: $5 for unlimited access to games.
Light meals and drinks available.
RSVP to Camille by Wed 25 July at:

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