Study Suggests Bipolar Disorder May Cause Progressive Brain Damage
A study by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center indicates that people with bipolar disorder may suffer progressive brain damage.
For the first time, our study supports the idea that there may be on-going damage to certain regions of the brain as the illness progresses, said the studys lead author Raymond Deicken, MD. Deicken is the medical director of the Psychiatric Partial Hospital Program at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and UCSF associate professor of psychiatry.
The study appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
More than 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic depression. To date, there are no physiological markers used to diagnose the disease. Instead, it is identified by behavioral symptoms, including frequent mood swings between high-energy mania and severe depression.
Deicken and his colleagues compared brain scans of 15 non-symptomatic male patients with familial bipolar I disorder to those of 20 healthy male comparison subjects. Male subjects were chosen to control for the effects of gender. In addition, test subjects were chosen based on several previous studies showing -that patients who have inherited the disorder have more prominent changes in brain structure and function.
The hippocampus is also important from a therapeutic standpoint since it is one of two brain regions where new neuronal growth, or neurogenesis, can occur, offering hope for reversal of damage.
What Happens When Bipolar Is Left Untreated
Guest over a year ago, such as: Problems related to drug and alcohol use Suicide or suicide attempts Legal or financial problems Damaged relationships Poor work or school performance Co-occurring conditionsWhat happens if bipolar disorder isnt treated? The consequences can be serious and deadly, Bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world, it is possible for a person with bipolar disorder to live with their condition andLeft untreated bipolar disorder usually gets worse, damaging family relationships with your children or spouse.
Getting Diagnosed And Getting Treated
While bipolar disorder is generally a life-long illness, treatment helps most people manage their symptoms. You may still have lingering symptoms and relapses, but you can enjoy a good and productive life. Because there is no blood test or brain scan that can diagnose bipolar disorder, you need to let your doctor know if you have any of the symptoms. You may be at increased risk of bipolar disorder if you have a family history of the disease.
Symptoms to report include:
Periods of depression when you may be very tired, have no energy, be unable to think straight, feel helpless, or have thoughts of death or suicide
Periods of mania when you may not need sleep, talk very fast, be very restless, have unrealistic ideas, and engage in reckless behaviors
Periods of mania or depression that last for at least seven days
Periods of mania or depression that are a major change from your normal behavior, most likely affecting your work and social life
Shifting back and forth between periods of feeling low, sad and helpless and feeling high, unstoppable and energetic
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What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
What lifestyle changes can I make?
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Your healthcare professionals should offer you a combined healthy eating, exercise and sleep programme.
You can find more information about wellbeing any physical health at:www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/living-with-mental-illness/wellbeing-physical-health/.
What are support groups?
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online. The charity Bipolar UK have an online support group. They also have face to face support groups in some areas of the country. Their contact details are in the Useful contacts at the bottom of this page.
What are recovery colleges?
Unfortunately, recovery colleges arent available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google.
How Can You Help A Loved One Get On The Path To Treatment And Recovery
A healthier path can begin today. Living with bipolar disorder doesnt have to be a hopeless, helpless ride. Not only can you help a loved one access individualized treatment for bipolar, but you can also support them in sustaining this recovery journey. Treatment adherence is simultaneously one of the most challenging and one of the most critical elements of the long-term healing path with bipolar disorders.
The sooner a person can access the medications, psychotherapy, and other support tools that are ideal for them, the sooner they can reshape their life around healthy routines and a hopeful perspective. The best place to begin is in a residential setting. Here, clinicians are knowledgeable about bipolars specific symptoms and the comprehensive options for treatment. The environment is comfortable and serene so clients can put their healing first. And the support community also includes peers who are on similar recovery paths and family and friends, who are encouraged to participate. This haven of life-changing help is ready to welcome you and those you care about.
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Rapid Cycling In Bipolar Disease
The phrase rapid cycling refers to four or more cycles in a 12-month period. However, while having four or more cycles in a one-year period means meeting the criteria for a diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar illness, rapid cycling is not necessarily a permanent pattern. Rather, rapid cycling can present at any point in the course of the disease. And it can be transient.
While about 2.5% of Americans have bipolar disorder, only about 10% to 20% of those will develop rapid cycling.
Rapid cycling may be more likely to affect those who were young when symptoms first appeared, those who have had bipolar disorder for a longer time, and those who misuse alcohol and other substances.
In addition, the term “ultra-rapid cycling” may be applied to those who cycle through episodes within a month or less. If this pattern occurs within a 24-hour period, the person’s diagnosis could possibly be termed “ultra-ultra-rapid cycling” or “ultradian.” It is often difficult to tell ultradian cycling from a mixed episode.
How Often Do People With Bipolar Disorder Cycle
Verywell / Cindy Chung
In the context of bipolar disorder, a mental illness that involves extreme swings in mood, a cycle is the period of time in which an individual goes through one episode of mania and one episode of depression . Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to how often these cycles occur.
The frequency and duration of bipolar cycles are as varied as the individuals who have them. A change or mood swing can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months.
Typically, someone with bipolar disorder experiences one or two cycles a year, with manic episodes generally occurring in the spring or fall.
A 2010 study of people with bipolar 1 disorder found that mood episodes lasted an average of 13 weeks. On average, people with bipolar will have one or two cycles yearly. In addition, there is a seasonal influencemanic episodes occur more often in the spring and fall.
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What Happens When A Bipolar Person Goes Off Their Meds
If you decide to stop treatment on your own, or skip your medication, the recurrence of manic and depressive symptoms in the next episodes may be more difficult to prevent and manage. Your condition may take a downward spin, meaning the frequency and intensity of the episodes may increase throughout life.
Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
The severity of symptoms of bipolar can vary from one person to another. Mood swings include episodes of both mania and depression, which may occur in rapid sequence or may seem to go away for a period of time, sometimes for months or years.
Mania is a hallmark symptom of bipolar disorder, and a person has to have experienced at least one episode of mania or hypomania in order to be diagnosed with this condition. Hypomania is a less intense form of mania. Symptoms of mania include:
- Racing thoughts
- Increased energy
- Sense of euphoria or exaggerated self-confidence
One or more episodes of mania may alternate with periods of depression, which includes lack of energy and loss of interest in activities. During a major depressive episode, a person may sleep too much, be unable to concentrate and may consider suicide.
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What Causes Bipolar Disorder
The cause of bipolar disorder isnt clear. Research suggests that a combination of different things can make it more likely that you will develop bipolar disorder.
There is a 13% chance you will develop bipolar disorder if someone in your immediate family, like a parent, brother or sister has bipolar disorder.
This risk is higher if both of your parents have the condition or if your twin has the condition.
Researchers havent found the exact genes that cause bipolar disorder. But different genes have been linked to the development of bipolar disorder.
Brain chemical imbalance
Different chemicals in your brain affect your mood and behaviour. Too much or too little of these chemicals could lead to you developing mania or depression.
Stressful life events can trigger symptoms of bipolar disorder. Such as childhood abuse or the loss of a loved one. They can increase your chances of developing depressive episodes.
You can find more information about Does mental illness run in families? by clicking here.
The Keys To Bipolar Disorder Self
Get educated. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know, the better youll be at assisting your own recovery.
Get moving. Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise that activates arm and leg movement such as running, walking, swimming, dancing, climbing or drumming may be especially beneficial to your brain and nervous system.
Keep stress in check. Avoid high-stress situations, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
Seek support. Its important to have people you can turn to for help and encouragement. Try joining a support group or talking to a trusted friend. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it wont mean youre a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your relationship.
Stay closely connected to friends and family. Nothing is as calming to the nervous system as face-to-face contact with caring supportive people who can just listen to you talk about what youre experiencing.
Make healthy choices. Healthy sleeping and eating habits can help stabilize your moods. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is particularly important.
Monitor your moods. Keep track of your symptoms and watch for signs that your moods are swinging out of control so you can stop the problem before it starts.
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The Meaning Bipolar Disorder
The central nervous system employs complex neurochemical transmitters in the brain and nervous system to regulate sentimental operations.
The Following Essential Roles Are Directly Related to Small Variations in The Levels of These Chemicals:
- Positive and negative feelings
- Controlling the impulses
- Anxiety and stress relief
Individuals that have an excess or deficiency in this chemical system can have moments that are marked by Significant depression and emotional dementia. Emotional numbness, constant grief, weeping, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness and desperation, and suicidal thoughts, gestures, or acts are some of the most common symptoms of depression, while common symptoms of bipolar mania vary slightly.
If a person struggles with bipolar disorder and domestic violence, they may have a Dual Diagnosis of bipolar disorder and domestic violence. Being diagnosed with Dual Diagnosis or a co-occurring condition makes recovery very difficult. Bipolar individuals, on the other hand, may experience episodes of extreme domestic violence alternated with periods of heightened episodes and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Emotional instability interferes with the recovery program, making it challenging to comply with the treatment plans guidelines.
Do People With Bipolar Know They Have It
Bipolar disorder is a pretty common mental health condition. About 1 in 40 American adults live with it. Its common in children and adolescents, but it usually doesnt get diagnosed until adulthoodit can take up to ten years from the time a person experiences symptoms to the time they actually get diagnosed!
So no, not everyone who has bipolar disorder knows they have it. There are lots of reasons why someone with bipolar disorder might not realize itor why they might deny having it even if they do. If you think someone you know might have untreated bipolar disorder, there are a few things you can do to help.
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The Effects Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is identified by periods of manic episodes.
During a manic phase, you have above-average energy levels, and may not sleep much. You can also experience irritability, restlessness, and an increased sex drive.
If you develop depression, this phase can have the opposite effects on the body. You may feel a sudden lack of energy and require more sleep, along with feeling depressed and hopeless.
Appetite changes can also occur if the person develops depression. As with mania, depression can also cause irritability and restlessness.
Its also possible to experience a mixed-state of mania and depression. You might notice symptoms from both phases.
What Is Rapid Cycling
Some people with bipolar disorder develop rapid cycling where they experience four or more episodes of mania or depression within a 12-month period. Mood swings can occur very quickly, like a rollercoaster randomly moving from high to low and back again over a period of days or even hours. Rapid cycling can leave you feeling dangerously out of control and most commonly occurs if your bipolar disorder symptoms are not being adequately treated.
The different faces of bipolar disorder
Bipolar I Disorder This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode. Usuallybut not alwaysBipolar I Disorder also involves at least one episode of depression.
Bipolar II Disorder In Bipolar II disorder, you dont experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.
Cyclothymia Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.
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Does Bipolar And Domestic Violence Have Any Connection
Non-Treated Bipolar Disorder Patients Are More Likely to Engage in Domestic Violence for The Accompanying Facts:
- Substance abuse additionally exacerbates domestic violence.
- Mania can lead to issues with emotion regulation
- Reckless sexual conduct can cause damage to the bipolar persons partner
- Major psychosis may cause suicidal ideation or behaviors.
Because of the diseases ever-changing existence, bystanders are often uncertain of how to brace themselves and urge their loved ones to seek aid if their loved ones suffer from bipolar disorder
Its not easy to explain the increased rate of substance abuse and dependence on chemicals among people having a bipolar disorder issue. The major reason for this is that many individuals attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to stop the painful symptoms of the ailment. This, in turn, breeds their aggression drive to abnormal levels manifesting in episodes of domestic violence.
Clinical researchers believe that brain chemistry may influence bipolar disorder and substance abuse resulting in domestic violence. According to WebMD, people having issues with the medical condition most times have beyond normal levels of, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals influence your brains functions such as sleep, metabolism, appetite, and your bodys response to stress. They also affect your mood and emotions. They trigger aggression with domestic violence.
What Is Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can be a life-long mental health problem that mainly affects your mood. It affects how you feel, and your mood can change massively. You can experience episodes of:
- mania, and
You may feel well between these times. When your mood changes, you might see changes in your energy levels or how you act.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. They can affect areas of your life, such as work, school and relationships.
You usually develop bipolar disorder before you are 20. It can develop in later life, but it rarely develops after the age of 40.
You could have symptoms of bipolar disorder for some time before a doctor diagnoses you. A doctor might say you have something else such as depression before you get a bipolar disorder diagnosis. This is because diagnosing mental illnesses can be sometimes difficult for doctors. They usually cant do things like blood tests and scans to help them.
Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression.
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What Risks And Complications Can Bipolar Disorder Cause
There can be complications and risks for people who live with bipolar disorder. But these risks can be lessened with the right support and treatment.
What about suicide and self-harm?
You might have an illness where you experience psychosis, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Your risk of suicide is estimated to be between 5% and 6% higher than the general population.
You are more likely to try to take your own life if you have a history of attempted suicide and depression. It is important that you get the right treatment for your symptoms of depression and have an up to date crisis plan.
There is also research that suggests you are 30% – 40% more likely to self-harm if you live with bipolar disorder.
What about financial risk?
If you have mania or hypomania you may struggle to manage your finances. You may spend lots of money without thinking about the effect that it may have on your life.
You could make a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a legal process. This means that you pick someone that you trust to manage your finances if you lack mental capacity to manage them by yourself.
You can work with your carer and mental health team. You can form an action plan. This can say what they can do if you have a period of mania or hypomania and you start to make poor financial decisions.
What about physical health risk?
What about alcohol and drugs risk?
If you want advice or help with alcohol or drug use contact your GP.
What about driving risk?