Bipolar patients receive treatment that is detrimental in long-term
By Bill Heaney
Bipolar Disorder is a horrible illness which affects many people and their families in West Dunbartonshire.
But some patients are receiving treatments such as antidepressant mono-therapy that are, at best, ineffective and, at worst, detrimental to long-term outcomes.
This was revealed at Holyrood this week when Rachael Hamilton, the Conservative MSP, asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, above right, what action the government was taking to help people who have bipolar disorder.
Ms Hamilton told the Scottish Parliament: “According to Professor Daniel Smith from the University of Glasgow, bipolar disorder patients in Scotland are receiving treatments such as antidepressant mono-therapy that are, at best, ineffective and, at worst, detrimental to long-term outcomes.
“Lithium, prescribed on its own, is the recommended first-line treatment for bipolar disorder because of its proven effectiveness in preventing episodes of depression and mania, but that treatment is prescribed to only one in 20 patients.
“What action is the First Minister’s Government taking to address this important issue? Does she agree with Alison Cairns, the chief executive of Bipolar Scotland, that we need more patient-clinician partnerships in Scotland?”
Nicola Sturgeon replied: “Bipolar disorder is a very serious mental illness. We want everyone in Scotland to have access to effective mental health services when they need them, which is why we set out in our programme for government a £250 million package of measures to do more to support positive mental health and to prevent ill health.
“That funding for a package of new measures is in addition to £150 million of investment over five years that is already under way to support the delivery of the mental health strategy.
“In addition, we are providing support to Bipolar Scotland, which provides information, support and advice for people who are affected by bipolar disorder and those who care for them.”
The First Minister added: “The Scottish Government expects all patients with bipolar disorder to have access to appropriate and evidence-based treatments, with individual prescribing decisions, of course, being made by clinicians, but in partnership with their patients.
“We have set a national standard in Scotland that outlines the monitoring requirements for people who are treated with lithium.
“We can improve the quality of the care and treatment that we provide, improve patient safety and reduce what is an established health inequality.
“Individual health boards will, of course, determine how best to undertake the monitoring, but it is very important that it is done.”