Low Dose Accutane and Bipolar Disorder

There is no doubt about low dose Accutane effectiveness for treating acne. But lately, this drug has been blamed for a number of but psychiatric side effects.

A study in the Journal of Affective Disorders (May 2010) reported an increase in depression or suicidal thoughts in patients with bipolar disorder who were treated with Isotretinoin.

Faulty methods and limited data used by researchers can influence the results in a study. With so many pieces adding together, not every study reaches the same conclusion linking isotretinoin and negative side effects. Researchers still see a link between Accutane and side effects in bipolar patients and continue to work on their research.

You might connect the ideas of acne and bipolar disorder because acne frequently occurs in patients who take lithium, a psychiatric drug used to treat BD. In addition, this disorder shows up during adolescence when hormone changes can trigger severe acne.

Accutane Suicide

The Journal of Affective Disorders published an article called “Psychiatric reactions to isotretinoin in patients with bipolar disorder.”

The doctors recorded whether patients with BD had more trouble with suicidal thoughts or depression when their acne treatment included this drug.

The researchers studied the case files on 300 patients treated for BD. The study focused on a group of ten patients whose acne treatments included isotretinoin. These ten patients exhibited negative side effects from the medicine.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder create confusion in this study. Patients with BD commonly report sadness, depression and harmful or suicidal thoughts.

Researchers struggle to identify the cause of the patient’s depression as related to BD or related to isotretinoin. The study looked specifically for unusual amounts of negative thoughts.

Of the ten patients noted, all but one of them had issues with unusual depression while on the medication. Stopping isotretinoin improved the symptoms for most patients.

Still, this study cannot prove that isotretinoin causes depression in BD patients, but a link seems clear. In the end, the study concluded that patients with bipolar disorder might be susceptible to more mood swings if their acne is treated using this medication.

Various studies come to very different conclusions. In some cases, the studies reported no significant change in depression among BD patients treated with isotretinoin.

Each study is unique. Researchers often used a small number of case studies in each report, so comparing the studies to a larger group of patients becomes very challenging. In every study, the researchers defined significant depression slightly differently.

The most problematic issue for these studies becomes getting accurate data. Researchers used case files from other types of research rather than identifying separate data for just the link between BD and isotretinoin.

Bipolar disorder presents many difficult obstacles when researchers want to examine the side effects of a medication that might include depression. The natural swing of moods from joyous to sad and beyond is a natural part of the disorder itself.

Researchers must proceed carefully if they wish to link low dose Accutane with harmful side effects in bipolar patients.


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