Studies have shown that the introduction of the mood stabiliser lithium into the medical treatment prescribed for people with bipolar disorder could help them cope better with their illness.
"People with bipolar disorder are less likely to suffer a relapse if they are taking both lithium and sodium valproate, rather than the drug valproate alone," the University of Oxford said in a statement on Wednesday.
It said sodium valproate has been increasingly prescribed over lithium as a long-term therapy for bipolar disorder, sometimes termed manic depression.
"But the findings of the randomised trial, published in the medical journal The Lancet, suggest that those who have been prescribed valproate would fare better if lithium was added to their therapy, or if they changed to lithium alone."
The statement said there had been significantly fewer relapses among those on both drugs over the two year period of the trial.
1 in 100 bipolar sufferers
About one in a 100 people suffer with bipolar disorder, characterised by wide swings in a person's mood.
"During a severe depressive episode, people may have feelings of hopelessness and despair, and have difficulty in carrying on with daily activities and work.
"In the manic phase, people may be overactive, lose judgement, become sexually uninhibited, and have grandiose ideas or delusions," the university said.
The trial had been carried out among 330 people with bipolar disorder, the university said. – (Sapa, December 2009)
Smoking in bipolar a suicide risk