One of the common criticisms made about the use of drugs to treat mental disorder is that they don’t act as a cure, they simply offer temporary relief from disabling symptoms. New research challenges this. Prof Shitij Kapur and his team at King’s College London (Vernon et al. 2012) have produced evidence that certain drugs change brain structure. In this study rats were given treatment with either lithium (used for bipolar disorder) or an antipsychotic for 6 weeks. Brain scans showed an increase in cortical grey matter for the lithium rats and a decrease for the antipsychotic rats. At present, however, the clinical significance of these changes is not clear.
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