Common Drugs to help with Mental Illnesses

A study claims that medications commonly used to fight some physical health diseases could bring significant benefits to people with critical mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, assessed the health data records of 142,691 patients with serious mental illness (SMI) in Sweden.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University College London (UCL), in the UK, analysed patients’ health records relating to self-harm and psychiatric hospitalisation. The team assessed patients who were prescribed statins used for cholesterol/heart disease, L-type calcium channel antagonists (LTCC) to decrease high blood pressure and biguanides for diabetes. They checked if the episodes of self-harm and psychiatric distress occurred when mental health patients were taking any of these prescribed medications.

It was discovered that exposure to any of the drugs studied was observed to be associated with reduced psychiatric hospitalisation rates. Dr Joseph Hayes (UCL Psychiatry) and his team found that these cheap common medicines helped reduce the symptoms patients with severe mental illnesses. Self-harm decreased for people affect by a bipolar disorder and schizophrenia patients during exposure to these drugs, and in patients with psychosis using L-type calcium channel antagonists. A 10 to 20% reduction in the number of episodes was discovered.

Dr James MacCabe at the Institute of Psychiatry at the King’s College London said, “These findings are very compelling and strongly suggest a potential role for repurposing these drugs to improve mental health outcomes.”

“All three studied drugs are globally licensed, commonly used, cheap and relatively safe medications. They are, therefore, ideal candidates for repurposing,” Dr.Hayes said. The researchers at University College London say their findings demonstrate enormous potential. And now, they and other independent experts are in plans to undertake clinical trials to authenticate and implement these results on a large scale.

References:

  • Cheap common drugs may help mental illness, January 2019, BBC News
  • Cheap, common drugs may help mental illness —Study, January 2019, Punch Newspaper
  • Common medications for physical health may also treat mental illness, January 2019, Pharmaceutical Technology
  • Common physical health drugs may help treat mental illness, January 2019, The Pioneer