How research brightens the bipolar disorder outlook

April 6, 2016  //  FOUND IN: News,

For people with bipolar disorder, the world can alternate between being a dark, depressed place, and one of infinite possibilities and manic energy.

The roller coaster of moods seems to cascade out of control, unless individuals get help from trained mental health specialists and find a medication that works for them.

Even with help available, far too many people with bipolar disorder end their own lives.

Researchers such as the University of Michigan’s Melvin McInnis, M.D., want to understand why bipolar disorder happens, how to treat it more effectively, and how to help patients and their families get the most out of modern knowledge about the condition once known as manic depression.

McInnis and his colleagues in Taiwan just published a study that could help many patients, and their care teams, stay the course on treatment and avoid suicide.

Meanwhile, back in Michigan, he’s part of a team collecting and analyzing information about hundreds of people with and without bipolar disorder who have volunteered to let U-M researchers study them. The team has even used stem cell technology to observe how brain cells react to bipolar medicines.

Soon, such work will be featured on PBS stations nationwide in a documentary about bipolar disorder called Ride the Tiger: A Guide Through the Bipolar Brain, produced by Detroit Public TV. The documentary airs nationwide April 13.

The one-hour film focuses on the toll the disease takes and the many mysteries that still surround the disorder. But the film also celebrates the achievements of people who have succeeded despite the disease — and of scientists working to understand and defeat it.

For McInnis, every day is World Bipolar Day, not just the official March 30 observance.

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