Off Label Uses of Medications to Treat Mental Illness

How are off label medications discovered to treat mental illness

Often, drugs developed to treat one illness are discovered to have benefits in treating other illnesses as well. This phenomenon takes place in every aspect of medicine and not just psychiatry. I thought the following article regarding off label uses of medications to treat mental illness interesting and worthy of posting. My husband suffers from chronic back pain and went in for an unrelated surgical procedure. For 8 weeks after the procedure he was free of back pain; we had suspected that the anesthetic (though a low dose for twilight sleep) was responsible for his freedom from back pain. Would a quarterly low dose of anesthesia be of more benefit to him than taking Tramadol on a daily basis? We are finding more and more that certain off label uses of medications can treat depression, anxietybipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.

Many other disciplines of medicine discover effective treatments through off label medications

Quite often, many drugs are discovered to address issues other than their intended use. We call this using drugs off label. For example; anti-seizure medications are now also used as mood-stabilizers after a benefit in mood symptoms was found, often anti-depressants are used to treat fibromyalgia after it was discovered that patients who suffered from both had relief from both groups of symptoms; Vagal nerve stimulation used to control seizures is being used to control depression, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy TMS is another technique used to treat depression and anxiety and was developed for uses other than treating mental illness. Several off label medications in psychiatry are very effective in treating depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, and schizophrenia. Now these off label uses of medications are not approved by the FDA for these other illnesses. The goal is to conduct studies that justify the use of these medications for the newly discovered benefits, and then have them approved by the FDA. Yet this doesn’t necessarily imply that a psychiatrist cannot use the drug as an off label medication prior to its FDA approval. I believe that the TMS and Vagal nerve stimulation have been approved by the FDA. Often hormones and other physical issues can be responsible for depression, anxiety, and symptoms of bipolar disorder; a good psychiatrist will always screen to rule out these physical, thyroid, hormonal, or bodily issues as the causes. You should always tell your doctor what medications you are on and any changes in your health with the addition or subtraction of medications; this information may be helpful in future discoveries of off label uses of medications.

Katemine Treatment For Bipolar Disorder
Single Injection of Ketamine Provides Relief From Depression in 40 Minutes
By Katrina Woznicki

Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD Aug. 2, 2010 Patients with bipolar disorder who failed to find relief from their depression with other standard treatments experienced fast-acting relief from a single intravenous (IV) dose of a drug called ketamine, according to a new, small study.

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., found that ketamine, an anesthetic, improved symptoms of depression within 40 minutes of injection. The beneficial effects remained significant one day and even two days after the injection, suggesting that ketamine was both fast-acting and long-lasting, the authors report in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. These results are noteworthy, the researchers say, since patients often experience a long lag between the time they take their depression treatment to the time they feel an improvement in their mood. Overall, 71% of the patients responded to the ketamine and reported an improvement in symptoms, compared with 6% of patients given a placebo. – End of article  Copyright ©2009, WebMD, LLC

Off Label Discoveries Depend and Rely on Your Help

If you ever have an experience whereby you believe that a medication that you are taking is positively or negatively effecting some other medical issue, please tell your doctor. You may even want to write the drug company. This is most often how these discoveries are made. I have been a practicing psychiatrist since 1997 and since 2001 in Scottsdale AZ. If you are seeking help for mental health, please review my credentials page and then contact me to set an appointment. I look forward to working with you towards a life of joy, peace and purpose. Off label uses of medications to treat mental illness are quite common and we see an overlap between psychotropic drugs and neurological medications often. Even recently the FDA is approving medication for their off label uses. Are you seeking a qualified and experienced Psychiatrist in Scottsdale? Please call my office to schedule and appointment, I look forward to hearing from you.

this article on Off Label uses of Medications to Treat Mental Illness is for informational purposes only and not to be used in diagnosing or treating any psychiatric illness