Bipolarlife Newsletter February 2017

issue 89  (our 8th year)

February 2017

World Bipolar Day – Thursday  March 30th 2017

Bipolar Life Victoria

Upcoming Support Groups Meetings

click group location for further information

click group location for further information


Our new website is now launched! –

try us on your phone!

We are very excited to have finally launched our new site after months of development. We also have loads more content to load over the next few months.

Our main goals for the new website is to provide content that is relevant and reliable and so help our bipolar tribe improve their lives. If you take a look around the site we think you’ll get a pretty good idea of who we are and what we do.


The Truth About Antidepressants

There are many misperceptions about mental illness and its treatment that contribute to stigma. People may incorrectly assume that the feelings that accompany anxiety and depressive disorders can be willed away with the right amount of discipline, or that seeking help for them is a sign of weakness. It’s important to understand that these emotional disorders are not “normal” feelings. This fact is often misunderstood, which can also lead to misunderstandings about the use of medication.

Misinformation about the role that antidepressants or medication play in the treatment of mental illness can deter people with depression or anxiety from using what may be one of their best options for recovery. The term “antidepressant” is somewhat misleading, in that these medications could easily be called anti-anxiety medications and are used to treat many other conditions. Combined treatment, which involves drug therapy, psychotherapy and lifestyle change, has proved most effective in treating depression and anxiety and in lowering relapse rates.

Myth Truth
Antidepressants make you falsely happy. Antidepressants work gradually to normalize emotions.
Antidepressants keep you from feeling any emotions. The purpose of antidepressants is to get back to a fully functional work and personal life.
People should be able to deal with their depression and anxiety disorders naturally. Some people need help to regulate emotional problems, just like some people need inhalers to regulate their breathing or insulin to regulate blood sugar.
You’ll need to take medication for the rest of your life. Doctors try to be as conservative as possible when prescribing medication, recommending the smallest effective dose only for as long as is necessary.

Antidepressants Are Not “Happy Pills”

The purpose of antidepressants is to help a patient’s mood to return to a normal state, not to alter it. Antidepressants do not make you high or work quickly – they work over an extended period of time. These medications are not sedatives, “uppers” or tranquilizers. They are not habit-forming. Generally antidepressant medications have no stimulating effect on people not experiencing depression or anxiety. Most people start to feel better two to four weeks after starting treatment. Full benefits may not be felt for two to three months, or even longer in some patients.

The purpose of antidepressants is not to “make you happy,” nor are they intended to keep you from feeling emotions. The goal of medication and combined treatment is to help you get you back to functioning as your full self. Feeling emotionally numb is a symptom of depression, a symptom that the use of antidepressants is intended to help correct. If the medication is working correctly, a patient with a depressive or anxiety disorder should be able to experience typical levels of joy, sadness, stress and the full range of emotions.

There Is No Shame in Seeking Help

Mental illnesses are illnesses like any physical ailment – they often require combined treatment to improve. Sometimes treatment involves psychotherapy, sometimes it involves medication, and it requires both – along with lifestyle changes – to be most effective. If a person requires medication to manage a mood or anxiety disorder, it is important they do so, just as it is important for a person with asthma to use an inhaler or a person with diabetes to use insulin.

As with any medication, there can be side effects when using antidepressants. Some adverse effects, like sexual dysfunction, can be difficult to talk about, but it’s important to talk with your doctor and treatment team about how you’re reacting to your medication. Doctors weigh many factors in choosing an antidepressant, such as the person’s medical status, prior bouts of depression, prior responses to antidepressants and the presence of symptoms. There is a wide variety of treatment options for depression and anxiety, including a range of medications, and the right balance of medication, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes can differ from person to person.

If you are having trouble with what you think may be a mental health condition, it’s important to speak to your doctor. Early intervention can help reduce the severity of an illness. It may even be possible to delay or prevent a major mental illness altogether.

American Psychiatric Association – Mar 2016


Community Education Seminar Series
OCD Seminar
7th March 2017 ( 7:00pm to 8:30pm )

MHFA (Victoria)  450 Chapel Street South Yarra
T  9826 1422 

The Mental Health Foundation of Australia (Victoria) Community Education Seminar series attracts leaders in the field of mental health who give the attendee an insight into their particular specialties.


Body clocks may hold key for treatment of bipolar disorder

Scientists have gained insight into why lithium salts are effective at treating bipolar disorder in what could lead to more targeted therapies with fewer side-effects.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by alternating states of elevated mood, or mania, and depression. It affects between 1% and 3% of the general population.

The extreme ‘mood swings’ in bipolar disorder have been strongly associated with disruptions in circadian rhythms — the 24-hourly rhythms controlled by our body clocks that govern our day and night activity.

For the last 60 years, lithium has been the mainstay treatment for bipolar disorder but little research has been carried out to find out whether and how lithium impacts on the brain and peripheral body clockwork. “Our study has shown a new and potent effect of lithium in increasing the amplitude, or strength, of the clock rhythms, revealing a novel link between the classic mood-stabiliser, bipolar disorder and body clocks,” said lead researcher Dr Qing-Jun Meng, in the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

“By tracking the dynamics of a key clock protein, we discovered that lithium increased the strength of the clockwork in cells up to three-fold by blocking the actions of an enzyme called glycogen synthase kinase or GSK3.

“Our findings are important for two reasons: firstly, they offer a novel explanation as to how lithium may be able to stabilise mood swings in bipolar patients; secondly, they open up opportunities to develop new drugs for bipolar disorder that mimic and even enhance the effect lithium has on GSK3 without the side-effects lithium salts can cause.”

These side-effects include nausea, acne, thirstiness, muscle weakness, tremor, sedation and/or confusion. Promisingly, GSK3 inhibiting drugs are already in development, as they have been shown to be important in other diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Dr Meng added: “Lithium salt has a wide spectrum of targets within cells, in addition to GSK3; drugs which only block the actions of GSK3 would therefore have the major advantage of reduced ‘off-target’ effects of lithium.

“Our study has identified the robust rhythm-enhancing effect of GSK3 inhibition, which has potential to be developed as a new pharmacological approach to regulate body clocks. The implications of our study are that there may also be beneficial effects leading to new treatments for bipolar disorder, and this now needs to be tested.”

The research, funded by the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is published in the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One.

Source: Manchester University March 13, 2014 .

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