A drug that treats anger is set to become available to the public in a bid to stem the growing number of cases of the potentially fatal condition.
The drug, called the medication agitators, is one of the most effective drugs currently being tested for the treatment of depression and other mental illnesses.
It works by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain, and if enough people take it, it will block the serotonin receptor from releasing the neurotransmitter that causes feelings of rage.
“There is an epidemic of anger,” Dr Daniel Jaffe, the chief executive of the British Association of Psychopharmacology, told The Independent.
“We are seeing an increase in people with this disorder and we need a treatment to deal with this.”
Dr Jaffe said the drug had been used to treat an “agitator syndrome” in which people with depression and anxiety were using drugs like Xanax and Klonopin to try to manage their symptoms, which they felt were worsening.
He said he was worried about the possible side effects, and he hoped to test the drug in a clinical trial later this year.
“There are people who have been taking this medication for a number of years and they are still experiencing some of the symptoms and it could be that they are taking too much of the drug and they have some of these side effects,” he said.
“What we need to do is to see if this can help, and that’s the main focus.”
Dr Daniel Jaff said the research was being done in collaboration with the US National Institute of Mental Health and was being undertaken to understand the mechanisms behind the behaviour.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NIMH), which runs the trial, said it would work with the British Government to help fund the research.
The first trial will start in February, but the researchers say they are also working to improve the drug’s safety.
“This will help us to improve its safety and efficacy,” Dr Jaffe added.
“But the main issue is that there is a large and growing proportion of people who don’t take it.”
He said it was possible the drugs could have side effects in people who had not been taking them.
“The best thing to do would be to see patients, to give them a dose and then see how that affects them and how they respond,” he explained.
“And then we can work on a plan of action to prevent it happening.”