At the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researcher Melissa P. DelBello reported that compared to placebo, the anticonvulsant topiramate reduced marijuana craving in young people aged 12–21 who were already taking the antipsychotic quetiapine. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) revealed that topiramate altered the activation of brain regions common to both drug craving and mood dysregulation. Topiramate could be a good treatment to reduce marijuana abuse. The antioxidant n-acetylcysteine (NAC) is another option.
At the 2014 meeting of the International College of Neuropsychopharmacology, researcher Rieva et al. reported that 60% of bipolar patients with comorbid alcohol abuse have attempted suicide, and 48% of bipolar patients with cocaine abuse have attempted suicide. Thus, both of these comorbidities deserve specific attention and treatment. Unfortunately there are currently no Federal Drug Administration–approved drugs for bipolar patients with these comorbidities. The most promising treatments, based on data in patients with primary addictions, are the nutritional supplement N-acetylcysteine and topiramate, which have both performed better than placebo in studies of alcohol and cocaine abuse disorders.
Until now, there has been little research about treating obsessive compulsive symptoms in people with bipolar disorder.
In a recent four-month double-blind placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial presented by Sharaian et al. at the 2014 meeting of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders, topiramate was more effective than placebo at reducing these symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder when added to their regular treatment. Nine of 17 study participants responded to topiramate (53%), while only two of 16 responded to placebo (12.5%).
Editor’s Note: These findings add to the list of comorbidities that topiramate may help with, even though it does not have any efficacy in the treatment of mania itself. Topiramate has helped with avoidance of cocaine and alcohol, bulimia and weight gain, anger attacks, and now obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Topiramate is also FDA-approved for migraine prevention in adolescents and adults.
Many patients with schizophrenia do not reach full remission on antipsychotic drugs alone. The anticonvulsant drug topiramate (Topamax) has shown some promise as an adjunctive treatment for schizophrenia. To clarify the results of studies of topiramate, researcher Christoph Correll and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of nine randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of the drug. They found that when topiramate was added to antipsychotic treatment, it improved both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, and it also led to reduced weight.
Editor’s Note: Topiramate might also be useful for patients with schizophrenia who have the common comorbidities of alcohol and cocaine abuse, since in other studies of patients with these primary disorders, topiramate was helpful.