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In what researchers say could be an important finding, a new study suggests that the anticonvulsant mood stabilizer divalproex sodium (valproate) may help patients with comorbid bipolar disorder and alcohol dependence.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found treatment was linked with a significant decrease in heavy drinking, although it found no advantage over placebo in improving manic and depressive symptoms.
Surveys have indicated a larger number of people with bipolar disorder (61 percent) have substance abuse problems, a rate higher than for any other mental illness. The Epidemiological Catchment Area study found a 1.2 percent rate of bipolar disorder in the general population. That would imply that possibly a million or more people in the United States have this combination of disorders.
"People with bipolar illness and addiction so far have not received much attention. This is a population in high need of effective treatment," study author Ihsan Salloum, M.D., MPH, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, told The Update.
Co-author Jack Cornelius, M.D., MPH, also a Professor at …