Bipolar Depression Controlled with Latuda

Bipolar’s depressive episodes can be difficult to treat. Very often the use of anti-depressants to treat bipolar depression can have unexpected and unwanted effects. Patients diagnosed with clinical depression without a bipolar component often have several treatment options to choose from, but options for bipolar depression are more limited and the side effects may prove more limiting than any positive outcomes hoped for.

Bipolar Depression Difficult to Treat

Bipolar depression has been a very frustrating component of bipolar disorder to effectively treat. Research studies often report mixed findings or contradictory conclusions. Recent data has found little support for the trial or use of anti-depressants to treat bipolar depression.

Latuda: An Atypical Anti-Psychotic for Bipolar Depression

Latuda or lurasidone, a relatively new medication, was first approved for the treatment of schizophrenia in 2010. Since that time Latuda has been approved for use in the treatment of bipolar depression. While the use of anti-depressants in bipolar depression remains a controversial issue, the prescribed use through an experienced and well-practiced psychiatrist does have positive results and provides those with bipolar depression another treatment choice option that helps to alleviate depression symptoms.

Over the past year I have used Latuda for more than 100 patients. It has been quite helpful for many of these patients who have bipolar depression and/or treatment resistant depression. It usually does not cause weight gain. Latuda is a member of the second-generation antipsychotic medicines. The other members are Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify, Geodon, Fanapt, and Saphris. It appears that the only member of the family that is equally less apt to cause weight gain is Geodon. However, Geodon does not have an indication for bipolar depression and more often causes restlessness or muscle pulling then does Latuda.

Most insurances cover Latuda now. It costs several hundred dollars per month if you have no insurance. However, the company provides free Latuda through their patient assistance program to those who qualify.

Common Side Effects of Latuda

Patient reports indicate that the use of Latuda has been well tolerated. Some of the most common side-effects documented include:

  • Somnolence or a strong desire to sleep which affects 22% of patients
  • Akathisia or a feeling of inner restlessness that makes it difficult to sit or stay still for long periods of time; this side-effect is reported in 15% of patients
  • Nausea has been reported in 12% of patients
  • Fasting glucose levels have shown a significant increase in up to 14% of patients

Less common side-effects patients complain of include:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Uncontrollable movements of the eyes, lips, tongue, face, arms or legs

Many to all of the side effects from use of Latuda are often dosage related. Your psychiatrist can often control the degree or impact of the side-effects by changing the dose prescribed. In addition to Latuda, your bipolar depression practitioner may utilize other medications and adjunct therapies that as a whole treatment regime bring the highest level of success for the management and treatment of bipolar depression.

Bipolar Depression Psychiatrist

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About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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