(BPT) - It is common for people to experience both periods of happiness and sadness throughout their lives, but it can be hard to determine whether prolonged versions of these emotional states indicate something more serious than changing feelings. Sharp mood swings between extreme highs and extreme lows can often be a sign of a mood disorder. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a lifelong serious mental health condition that causes debilitating, severe mood swings and changes in energy and activity levels. An estimated 5.8 million adults in the U.S. experienced bipolar disorder in the past year.
Identifying Depressive and Manic Episodes
When symptomatic, most people living with bipolar disorder spend more time in the depressive phase, called bipolar depression. Major depressive episodes in bipolar depression may cause depressed moods, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, or even suicidality. Alternatively, a person experiencing a manic episode may express increased energy and activity, unusual talkativeness, agitation, risky behavior, distractibility, and poor decision making. People living with bipolar disorder experience a 10-30 times higher rate of suicide, compared with the general population.
During a manic or hypomanic episode, individuals living with bipolar disorder may have an elevated mood and an exaggerated sense of self-confidence, and they are less likely to characterize their behavior as risky or problematic. Most of these individuals are likely to seek treatment during a depressive phase because depressive symptoms may be more troubling, negatively impact their quality of life, and cause functional impairment.,
Challenges in Diagnosing Bipolar Depression
Bipolar depression can be difficult to diagnose, in part because people living with the condition are likely to experience other conditions with similar symptoms like anxiety disorder or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Additionally, bipolar depression is commonly misdiagnosed as unipolar depression – or frequent depressive episodes without mania or hypomania. In fact, only 20% of people with bipolar disorder who are experiencing bipolar depression are diagnosed correctly within the first year of seeking treatment.
Dr. Roger S. McIntyre, M.D., FRCPC, Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, University of Toronto, Canada, has been working with people with bipolar depression for 20 years and knows the importance of getting the correct diagnosis. “It is imperative for healthcare providers to take the time to fully learn and understand an individual’s lived experiences, and that requires the individual to place significant trust in their care team. Once that trust is established, it allows for more productive conversations with people with bipolar depression and their caregivers about potential treatment plans.”
Getting the Proper Help
Talking to a healthcare provider about episodes of bipolar depression can be difficult, especially since people may feel embarrassed about their condition. “I always remind individuals that there is no shame in a bipolar depression diagnosis. With the right support and treatment, it is a manageable condition that is more common than many think,” says Dr. McIntyre.
Fortunately, there are treatments available to specifically treat bipolar depression that have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms. One such treatment is Latuda® (lurasidone HCl), a once-a-day prescription medicine FDA-approved to treat bipolar depression in adults, children, and teens (10 to 17 years). In clinical studies, Latuda has shown efficacy in significantly reducing depressive symptoms in people with bipolar depression, with minimal side effects on weight, metabolic parameters, or prolactin.
With the right caregiver support, healthcare team, and medication routine, those with bipolar depression can learn how to live a more balanced lifestyle and manage their symptoms. Before starting any treatment, people should talk to their healthcare providers to determine which treatment options may be right for them and to understand the potential benefits and risks.
For more information on bipolar depression and a discussion guide with tips on how to speak with your doctor about symptoms, visit www.latuda.com. Please see below for Important Safety Information.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION AND INDICATIONS FOR LATUDA
INCREASED MORTALITY IN ELDERLY PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA-RELATED PSYCHOSIS; and SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND BEHAVIORS
Increased risk of death in elderly people with dementia-related psychosis. Medicines like LATUDA can raise the risk of death in elderly people who have lost touch with reality (psychosis) due to confusion and memory loss (dementia). LATUDA is not approved for the treatment of people with dementia-related psychosis.
Antidepressant medicines may increase suicidal thoughts or behaviors in some children, teenagers, and young adults within the first few months of treatment and when the dose is changed. Depression and other serious mental illnesses are the most important causes of suicidal thoughts and actions. Patients on antidepressants and their families or caregivers should watch for new or worsening depression symptoms, especially sudden changes in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. This is very important when an antidepressant medicine is started or when the dose is changed. Report any change in these symptoms immediately to the doctor.
LATUDA may cause serious side effects, including:
Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do other dangerous activities until you know how LATUDA affects you. LATUDA may make you drowsy.
Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while you take LATUDA since these can affect the amount of LATUDA in the blood.
Do not take LATUDA if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in LATUDA or take certain medications called CYP3A4 inhibitors or inducers. Ask your health care provider if you are not sure if you are taking any of these medications.
Tell your health care provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. LATUDA and other medicines may affect each other, causing possible serious side effects. LATUDA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how LATUDA works. Your health care provider can tell you if it is safe to take LATUDA with your other medicines. Do not start or stop any other medicines during treatment with LATUDA without talking to your health care provider first.
Before taking LATUDA, tell your health care provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
The most common side effects of LATUDA include:
These are not all the possible side effects of LATUDA. For more information, ask your health care provider or pharmacist.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
LATUDA is a prescription medicine used:
 National Institute of Mental Health. “Bipolar Disorder Statistics.” Available from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/bipolar-disorder.shtml. Accessed April 2021.
 Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis and Symptoms. [Internet]. Available from: https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/bipolar-disorder/diagnosis/. Accessed April 2021.
 Dome, P., Rihmer, Z., & Gonda, X. (2019). Suicide Risk in Bipolar Disorder: A Brief Review. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 55(8), 403. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina55080403
 Sylvia, L.G., Montana, R.E., Deckersbach, T. et al. (2017). Poor quality of life and functioning in bipolar disorder. International Journal of Bipolar Disorders, 5, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40345-017-0078-4
 Loebel, A., Cucchiaro, J., Silva, R., Kroger, H., Hsu, J., Sarma, K., & Sachs, G. (2014). Lurasidone monotherapy in the treatment of Bipolar I Depression: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 171(2): 160-168. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13070984.