Disrupted Circadian Temperature Rhythm in Skin Temperature in Bipolar Mania

Highlights from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Conference Posters and Presentations, Chicago, June 22-25, 2023

Andrea Stautland of University of Bergen studied the nocturnal temperature of sleeping participants in mania and during remission between 3:00am and 6:00am (n=12). In mania, but not in remission there were “highly significant mean changes (lack of night time decreases) between baseline and 4:30am and 6:00am, with p=0.012 and p=0.037, respectively.”

Editors Note: This data is of interest in light of the new subtype of unspecified bipolar disorder called Temperature and Sleep Dysregulation Disorder (TSDD) characterized by profound behavioral dyscontrol, marked sleep disturbance, and temperature dysregulation (red face and ears, being too hot, going out in the cold underdressed). This extremely dysfunctional syndrome responds to high dose lithium; melatonin, clonidine, and other cooling techniques; and ascending and then repeated doses of intranasal ketamine (as described by Papolos et al 2013; 2018).

Higher Brain Temperature in Youth Bipolar Disorder Using a Novel Magnetic Resonance Imaging Approach

Highlights from Posters Presented at the Society of Biological Psychiatry Meeting, April 27-29, 2023 in San Diego

Ben Goldstein of the University of Toronto reported that “Brain temperature was significantly higher in BD (bipolar youth) compared to CG (control group) in the precuneus. Higher ratio of brain temperature-to-CBF [cerebral blood flow] was significantly associated with greater depression symptom severity in both the ACC [anterior cingulate cortex] and precuneus within BD.”

These finding are of particular interest in light of the Unspecified Bipolar Disorder subtype called Temperature and Sleep Dysregulation Disorder (TSDD), where patients are over heated and respond to clonidine and other cooling techniques along with lithium and repeated intranasal ketamine insufflations.

Two different subtypes of early onset unspecified bipolar disorder (USBD)

The first subtype is classical BP NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) having all the characteristics of full-blown bipolar disorder except for only having brief durations of mania and responding to conventional treatment. The second is what is now called Temperature and Sleep Dysregulation Disorder (TSDD) and was formerly described by D. Papolos as the Fear of Harm (FOH) syndrome, and requires a different treatment approach.

Clinicians should be alert to unique symptoms in children who might have TSDD as such a diagnosis would lead to a unconventional treatment paradigm. We emphasize the importance of specifically asking parents about evidence of over heating (red face and red ears) and high tolerance for cold (going outside markedly under-dressed) and the presence of fear of sleep and horrific nightmares, as these may lead one to consider the diagnosis of TSDD.

If these two novel aspects (temperature and sleep dysregulation) occur in the presentation of a highly fearful and behaviorally dysregulated child with bipolar-like symptoms, these may lead to the consideration of an unconventional treatment paradigm. It utilizes 1) high dose lithium; 2) clonidine and other practical approaches to achieve cooling and relieve over heating; and 3) ascending doses of intranasal ketamine (as described by Papolos et al 2013; 2018). This may be of considerable clinical importance as a large group of children with this unique presentation respond very poorly to conventional treatments for bipolar disorder and remain highly impaired and dysfunction throughout their childhood and adolescence.

If these children instead are treated with: lithium (to achieve blood levels of 1.0 meq/L or higher); clonidine (0.1- 0.3mg IR and 0.1mg ER at noon and HS) and other practical ways to achieve cooling; followed by ascending intranasal doses of ketamine (starting at 20mg and increasing toward 80-260mg/day, repeated every 2-3 days), marked improvement can be achieved. This occurs in conjunction with ketamine’s positive effects on fear and aggressive behaviors in association with its ability to reduce core body temperature.

We highlight this potential alternative treatment approach as long term positive effects have been achieved with it in open case series (Papolos et al 2013; 2018 ). The efficacy of this treatment approach has not been validated in controlled clinical trials, but we believe wider recognition of the two subtypes of USBD– BPNOS and TSDD,– will lead to more systematic research on treatment. Actively looking for the unique features of TSDD and pursuing its unconventional treatment may lead to long term positive effects in a child previously viewed as having an intractable psychiatric illness.