Bipolar disorder

Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and the Microbes Inside You

Posted on Updated on


This post is a reblog of a post by Candida Fink, MD.

I found it very interesting and hope you like it too! The post can be found on her blog: bipolar beat at psych central

Can the bacterial community that lives in your gut actually be related to psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? Research on the human microbiome and its effects on health and illness has exploded into the worlds of medicine and research. It is increasingly clear that the microorganisms in the human intestinal tract, and the genes produced by all of these microscopic living things, play critical roles in an individual’s patterns of overall wellness — far beyond helping us digest food effectively.

Microbiota and Microbiome Defined

Microbiota is the ecological community of microorganisms (mostly bacteria, but also fungi, viruses, and so on) that live in a particular location, such as your gut. Microbiomerefers collectively to the genes harbored in these microorganisms. Researchers must understand the patterns of both the organisms and the genes to help clarify the roles these microscopic creatures play in the body’s health and function. So, if you read something about the microbiome that’s about only the bacteria and not the genes, you know it is an incomplete discussion. Also, while most of the discussions are about the gut microbiota and microbiome, humans actually have colonies of microorganisms living in other areas in and on their bodies, including their skin, reproductive tract, and the mouth and throat (which are technically part of the gut but sometimes are not thought of in that way).

A study in the journal Brain, Behavior, Immunology (May 2017), entitled “The microbiome, immunity, and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” summarizes some of the current research looking at the microbiome as it relates to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The article reports that many studies in animal models have shown that the gut microbiome could affect thinking and behavior through effects on the immune system. Some human studies have shown that people with psychiatric conditions took antibiotics more frequently than people without these disorders. Humans take antibiotics to kill off unwanted bacterial infections, but these medications also kill off some of the microbiota, changing the person’s microbiome. The question that comes up then is whether these microbiome changes were related to the development of the psychiatric conditions. This article also points to studies that found different microbiota in the mouths and throats (oro-pharyngeal microbiota) of people with schizophrenia compared to those without.

Babies are born with “sterile” guts; they don’t have any gut microbiota. But in the birth process, microorganisms colonize the baby’s mouth and intestine, starting off their process of building a microbiome that eventually looks like an adult’s. Many researchers are exploring how the developing microbiome might affect the developing brain and nervous system. While it seems clear that there are effects, the exact processes mediating the effects and what exactly gets changed or affected remains very unclear. While the immune system is thought to be one pathway, other mechanisms are also being investigated.

Many other areas of research show promising results when looking at the microbiota, microbiome, and illness. Autism researchers are looking at the “gut-microbiome-brain” connection, and there are strong indicators that the microbiota and microbiome have some relationship to autism. Obesity — not a mental illness but of concern to so many people living with mental illness — has been shown to have some very interesting connections to the microbiota in mouse studies. Changing the patterns of bacteria in mouse guts can transform the mouse from lean to obese and vice versa without changing diets. A study from China last month in the World Journal of Gastroenterologyreports a case of a 20-year-old with Crohn’s disease and seizures. They treated her with fecal microbiota transplantation — giving her the gut microbiota of a healthy person — and her gastrointestinal symptoms and seizures improved significantly.

The potential benefits to understanding how the microbiota and microbiome interact with the brain and central nervous system could be enormous. Understanding microorganism mechanisms that increase the likelihood of mental illness such as bipolar disorder or neurodevelopmental condition like autism would make room to build new interventions that target those mechanisms. The research in these areas is still in early stages, and there is much more to do, but this is an intriguing and promising story in the quest to understand and treat disorders of the brain.

Advertisements

Living well with bipolar disorder

Posted on Updated on


This is a reblog from the blog the bipolar writer. The post if written by Allie, and I found it very informative and inspiring.

Reading it felt even more useful after the first day on a conference I’m on, where Allen Frances, a main contribution to the DSM-IV spoke. He told us more about the American mental health care system, and how hard it can be to get adequate help. Posts like these can help those who suffer from a mental health problem.

1 in 4 Americans suffer from a mental disorder, and out of those millions of Americans, 5.7 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, characterized by erratic moods consisting of mania (an elated state of being) and the more familiar depressive episodes. I am one of those 5.7 million Americans.

Bipolar disorder is often considered the “artist’s disease,” from Sylvia Plath to Vincent van Gogh exemplifying the creative bursts of energy, severe depressions, and unstable highs and lows that come with the disorder. There is a range of creative treatments that safeguard mood stability, including traditional medications and therapies that are universally recommended to treat bipolar disorder. Often, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and psychotherapy are the first lines of defense, alongside a good support system, to prevent mania and depression. However, three simple life changes can safeguard against serious bipolar episodes and help those who suffer from bipolar disorder maintain a stable, healthy lifestyle.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise – Healthy and Wise

Sleep is perhaps the most important preventer of manic relapses and a strong source of mood stability. Bipolar disorder is directly related to insomnia. The fewer people with bipolar disorder sleep, the more likely they are to become manic. The Center for Disease Control recommends seven hours of sleep daily for adults. Having a healthy sleep routine, such as an established bed time and avoidance of caffeine after 2:00 PM can help people with bipolar disorder achieve a good night’s rest. As someone who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has worked for years to combat insomnia, I have found that turning off screens (from televisions, phones, computers, tablets, etc.) an hour before bedtime and having a strong sleep routine where I turn in around the same time each night works wonders. If insomnia persists, one can talk to a doctor about sleep aids available by prescription and consider using Melatonin or a Circadian rhythm stabilizer (available over-the-counter).

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Exercise is another great mood booster, especially during depressive episodes and to combat the side effects of bipolar medications that often cause weight gain. The NIH recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. When you are active, dopamine floods your brain and gives you feelings of happiness similar to a runner’s high. This is especially important for bipolar disorder sufferers, whose serotonin levels are often imbalanced. However, staying active can be a challenge during depressive lows. I like to hike or cycle, which leaves me feeling satisfied and helps keep the pounds off from medicine. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it is biking or running, and watch as your mood improves.

Nourishing Your Brain, Nourishing Your Soul

Finally, good nutrition is directly linked to mental health, especially for those with bipolar disorder. Nourishing one’s body with healthy foods like whole grains, veggies, and lean meats, while reducing intake of fatty and sugary foods, and using probiotic supplements can improve mental health, buffering mood swings. I rediscovered my love of cooking healthy meals and have seen vast mood improvements since choosing a diet that works for me, specifically the low carb diet. Perhaps the Mediterranean or vegetarian diets will suit you? Experiment with food groups you like and remember to take probiotic supplements for a happy gut and brain.

Your brain, body, and emotions are all linked, bipolar or not, and with these healthy lifestyle changes, supplemented by the proper medication and therapy, bipolar disorder patients can not only survive but thrive.

Protected: The sound of shuffling feet 

Posted on Updated on


This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: Stable instability 

Posted on Updated on


This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Protected: The only exception 

Posted on Updated on


This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Resilience

Posted on Updated on


This is a reblog from Ken Dickson, the Author of detour from normal. I recommend the book for everyone who want to read a story about being committed to a psychiatric hospital. It is a touching story of how tough it can be to get listened to, once somebody decides that you are “crazy”.

You can get the book here

Resilience

Posted by:

What is Resilience? According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, it is an ability to recover from, or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Resilience can result from severe trauma, like a switch flipping in a person’s mind—a kind of wakeup call that closes a door to their immediate suffering, often opening a new one to latent passions.

That is what happened to me following surgery, adverse reactions to medications and resulting temporary mental illness. Within months, I embarked on a writing career and published my first book, Detour from Normal, just over a year later.

I asked doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors about my experience and was met with blank stares. The best they could offer was a pill to numb my mind and make me forget. Family and friends were no better—they either longed for the day I would fully recover, made fun of me behind my back, or shunned me.

I could have let that hurt my feelings or taken an easier route and pretended to be the old me. Instead, I chose a new path, convincing others even more of my continued lunacy. I desperately needed to understand why I changed so much.

At first, there seemed no answers. Eventually, however, I painstakingly assembled the pieces to the puzzle, one that perhaps only I could solve. Along the way, I discovered that few people in the world understood resilience, a fact that left me feeling isolated and alone.

As time passed and my desire to share my knowledge grew, I decided to write another book. I knew from my experiences that readers would likely be skeptical, so I hatched a brilliant plan: I’d divulge everything I’d learned in the form of an entertaining story, a kind of parable. If readers thought it crazy, I would tell them “It’s just a story.” Who knows, a crazy story might prove more popular than a sane one. On the other hand, suppose that my words changed lives and others became resilient without having to suffer trauma? It seemed a win-win proposition. I began writing.

More than anything, I wanted to live and breathe my story–experience what my characters did first-hand. Over the ensuing years, I travelled from the desolate to the exotic through Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Idaho. I hiked down dusty desert roads; four wheeled through rugged wilderness, and gazed upon some of the most beautiful scenery in America. I even joined Toastmaster’s for a year to overcome a fear of public speaking, following the path of my protagonist. Frequently, I carried a notebook. On one road-trip, I pulled to the side of the road repeatedly to record notes–sixteen pages in all.

Although I aspired to be a great writer, I paled in comparison to any number of famous authors. Seeking tutelage, I found a local English teacher. Over the next year, we painstakingly dismantled two years of work and created a new story unlike any other—a story of a formerly mentally ill man’s quest to make sense of his new life; of finding others like himself; of his burning desire to share his gift with the world to end suffering and open doors to endless opportunity; a story that I believe is our destiny.

Thus was born my second novel: The Road to Amistad. Soon, I will proudly present it to the world. I hope that you will join me then on an incredible journey into the unknown and test your own convictions about your mind.

UPDATE: The Road to Amistad was published on February 19th, 2016.

– See more at: http://kendicksonauthor.com/resilience/#sthash.nx57wZpm.dpuf

Bringing bipolar into focus

Posted on Updated on


Bringing bipolar into focus

Everyone’s looks a little different

By Elizabeth Forbes

Imagine a big museum filled with widely varied portraits. The shimmering figure in an ornate gold frame runs up his credit cards, cruises the bars and takes off on spontaneous trips every spring. Next to him is a monochrome image with just a splash of red—a man who mostly lives with depression but has a one-off manic episode in his past.

Over here is a woman photographed in vibrant color, reflecting the exuberant feeling of her hypomanic episodes. Facing her is a Cubist image which conveys an uncomfortable mix of twitchy energy, irritability and a kind of wired-up unhappiness. A tiny canvas represents symptoms that pass in days, while a mood that persists for weeks takes up a wall-sized tapestry.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short), psychiatry has done its best to capture all those individual shades of experience and boil them down to a set of common criteria for bipolar disorder—or rather, bipolar disorders, because there are a handful of different diagnoses under the bipolar umbrella.

If you can’t count on that stability, it makes life extremely difficult.

At the far manic end of the spectrum sits bipolar I disorder. Next comes bipolar II: depression with a helping of hypomania. Then there’s cyclothymic disorder, which describes frequent mood shifts that never reach a full-blown episode of depression or mania, and a category previously known as “not otherwise specified,” used for conditions that don’t precisely fit the other categories.

Bipolar II is often seen as a milder or “softer” form of the illness than bipolar I. Not so, says Ellen Frank, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the Depression and Manic Depression Prevention program at the medical center’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Bipolar-DepressionIn bipolar II, she says, “the depressions … can be so disabling and so long-lasting. The manias of bipolar I disorder are very dramatic and get people’s attention and yes, people can do a lot of financial and interpersonal damage during mania, but we know how to treat mania quite well. We’re not so good at treating either bipolar I or bipolar II depression.”

Cyclothymic disorder may seem milder yet, but by definition the diagnosis means that a person’s stable periods don’t last more than two months. “If you can’t really count on whether you’re going to be excessively energetic or optimistic or excessively pessimistic and not able to get anything done—if you can’t count on that stability, it makes life extremely difficult,” Frank says.

“By definition” gets back to those common criteria in the DSM, which is the standard reference clinicians use for figuring out how to label a set of symptoms—and thus how to treat the underlying illness. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always play by the book. And when your particular portrait of bipolar disorder doesn’t mesh neatly with the DSM descriptions, it can be harder to develop a treatment plan that will really help.

Bipolar-CommunicationRevisions to the DSM take aim at that disconnect. Frank was part of a group tasked with updating the section on bipolar disorder in the DSM-IV (or fourth edition), which the American Psychiatric Association put out back in 1994. She says the new fifth edition, called DSM-5, tries to get closer to what clinicians see in actual practice.

She says the group set out to address several problems, including “the incredible time lag between first symptoms and an accurate diagnosis … individuals who have bipolar disorder often wait 7 to 10 years for a correct diagnosis. That means they often wait 7 to 10 years for appropriate treatment.”

There are some things no amount of revising can fix. If someone doesn’t seek help because of stigma or some other reason, they’re not going to be diagnosed with anything. And an initial diagnosis of depression may actually be correct in the early stage of the illness, because hypomania or mania may not emerge until a good while later.

It’s really hard to pin down changes in mood.

What DSM-5 does try to tackle is the tricky job of ferreting out signs that indicate bipolar rather than unipolar depression. Primary care physicians may be getting more familiar with recognizing depression, but limited time with their patients and lack of comprehensive screening tools mean those elusive signs tend to go undetected. Even experienced clinicians may have a hard time “unless the individual is in a flagrant episode of mania,” Frank says.

Bipolar-HypersexualityAccording to clinical psychologist Eric Youngstrom, PhD, “There isn’t anything in the snapshot of bipolar depression that’s any different from any other kind of depression. The only way that we’re going to recognize that is by playing lifetime mood bingo, asking about all the different types of mood episodes in the past and in the present.”

Youngstrom is acting director of the Center of Excellence for Research and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is also a professor of psychology and psychiatry. His clinic has been working on a “roadmap to better assessment” that plugs in a lot of information beyond DSM symptoms to make diagnosis more accurate.

To diagnose a mood episode according to DSM criteria, clinicians go down a checklist of symptoms that are set up in a “one from column A, three to five from column B” format. For mania or hypomania, Column A has included just one major symptom: “abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood.” If you don’t answer yes to that, it’s usually game over.

However, mood symptoms tend to be an unreliable marker in clinical practice. For one thing, many people experience hypomania simply as better-than-usual life, a period of brilliant ideas, abundant energy and feeling great—so what’s the problem? This is known as “lack of insight.”

“We talk about onion and garlic symptoms,” says Youngstrom, using a metaphor he credits to the late Dennis Cantwell, MD. “Onion symptoms would bug us when we’re having them and garlic symptoms bug everyone else around us first. Depression is a bunch of onion symptoms. Hypomania is a bunch of garlic symptoms.”

From the perspective of people who are hypomanic, “They’re not talking too much, they’ve just got really exciting stuff that’s more interesting than anything anyone else is trying to say,” he says.

That goes double for mania—and the effect seems to linger even after an episode has passed.

In general, Frank says, “It’s really hard to pin down changes in mood. But when you ask someone, ‘Did your level of energy change or your level of activity change?’ generally retrospective memory is better.”

So the DSM-5 moves questions about changes in energy and activity level up from the “other” column to the top-priority section, in hopes of making it easier to identify people who belong on the bipolar spectrum.

Bipolar-ForgivenessAccording to Youngstrom, “it tends to be more culturally accurate as well. Thinking about bipolar as a mood issue tends to be a white, middle-class American way of thinking about the problem. Thinking about changes in behavior and activity level seems to work better across cultures.”

In another attempt to improve diagnosis, the former “mixed episode” is no more. Frank says very few people actually met the full criteria for a manic and major depressive episode at the same time, which was the requirement for a diagnosis of mixed episode, so the term was almost useless. DSM-5 substitutes “with mixed features” as a description (or specifier) that can be attached to the other types of mood episodes.

The clinician now has a way to indicate “depression mixed with a little bit of hypomania or mania mixed with some depression,” Frank says. Not only is that far truer to reality, but it’s another opportunity to shorten the time to a bipolar diagnosis—even if it’s that amorphous “not otherwise specified” (now dubbed “other specified” in DSM-5 for bookkeeping reasons.)

Beyond that, the new mixed-features specifier “has implications for prognosis, in that we know that this episode is going to be more difficult to treat,” Frank explains.

That’s really the end goal of the naming game: matching medications and psychotherapeutic approaches to the situation at hand. Of course, there’s no way a rigid set of criteria can account for the many facets of experience. A thorough psychiatric evaluation will look at much more, such as an individual’s work and home life, risk factors such as family history, and relevant medical conditions.

Individuals…often wait 7 to 10 years for a correct diagnosis.

“The DSM doesn’t cover all the possibilities, all the pictures that clinicians see as we’re working with people,” Youngstrom notes. On the other hand, “it gives us a language and a set of descriptions to use.”

When someone seems to fit the definition for bipolar II, for example, “it tells us that their depression is not going to respond the same way to antidepressants or to other treatments, so we would want to manage the depression differently.”

To make it easier for you to join the conversation, here’s a rundown of the various bipolar diagnoses.

Bipolar I

Although depression is the prevailing mood state for many people who have a bipolar diagnosis, it’s the manic symptoms that dictate which particular diagnosis is given. Even one full-blown manic episode during a person’s lifetime—regardless of history of depression—equals bipolar I. However, there is an exception in each category for mood episodes caused by a medical condition or drug, legal or otherwise. Manic episodes are hard for observers to miss (although the person in mania may not see it), so that a diagnosis of bipolar I often occurs when someone has been hospitalized or has a brush with the law, or relatives insist on getting help.

Bipolar II

This diagnosis calls for at least one lifetime episode of major depression plus at least one hypomanic episode. It can be challenging for clinicians to distinguish bipolar II from major depressive disorder because people may not even recognize hypomania. “They’ve got more energy than usual, they’re more creative than usual, but they’re not experiencing it as a problem,” Youngstrom says. And when he’s asking about past history, “people will remember if they’ve been hospitalized or gotten arrested, but anything less severe than that doesn’t seem as important once time has passed.”

Cyclothymic Disorder

This diagnosis indicates “there’ve been mood issues that haven’t gotten all the way to a depression, haven’t gotten all the way to mania, but they’ve lasted a long time,” Youngstrom says. Specifically, periods of manic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms occur frequently over the span of at least two years, causing significant distress but never qualifying as a diagnosable mood episode. Moreover, the individual doesn’t stay symptom-free for more than two months at a time.

Other Specified Bipolar

Formerly called Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, this is a kind of stopgap when symptoms don’t clearly indicate one of the other bipolar diagnoses. For example, hypomanic periods recur without any depressive interludes, or there are near-hypomanic episodes that don’t last four days or don’t have the right number of symptoms. DSM-5 gives more specifics on the various options for “other specified” and pushes for more documentation on “why the person doesn’t meet the full criteria for bipolar I or bipolar II,” Frank says. “It gives us more clinical information about how to treat, about prognosis, and so on.” (The name change makes DSM-5 consistent with the International Statistical Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems, a listing compiled by the World Health Organization.)

Rapid cycling

This is not actually a diagnostic category. Rather, it’s a “specifier” that is added to the diagnosis to indicate that four or more separate mood episodes of any stripe occurred within a single year. It’s also a widely misunderstood term, often used to describe symptoms that fluctuate by the day or even the hour. Youngstrom prefers “rapid relapsing” or “rapid episoding” to indicate the pattern of distinct but recurring mood shifts. “What that tells us is that even if we get you back to where we want you, we have to be on guard for relapse because this has jumped you already four different times in the past year,” he explains.

With psychotic features

This specifier can be applied to either a manic or depressive episode to indicate a break with reality, such as hallucinations (seeing or hearing things which aren’t there) and delusions (believing things that aren’t true). Hearing voices, receiving special messages, taking on a different identity (often that of a religious or famous figure), and being convinced of a special mission (again, often religious) are common psychotic symptoms. Paranoia and disordered thinking (not making sense) are other hallmarks of psychosis. Catatonia (paralysis of movement and speech) can occur during severe depression.

With mixed features

This new specifier takes the place of “mixed episode” and can be applied when depressive features are present during an episode of mania or hypomania—Youngstrom uses the metaphor of vanilla ice cream with fudge swirled through—or features of mania or hypomania are present during an episode of major depression, which would be chocolate ice cream with marshmallow swirls.

With anxious distress

This specifier was added to indicate symptoms of anxiety that don’t meet the full criteria for panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder or one of the other anxiety disorders. “This is an attempt to recognize the fact that even anxiety that doesn’t meet the full criteria for a disorder is something important to note and has implications for treatment,” Frank says.

Manic episode

Several elements must be present to diagnose a manic episode. First, there must be a distinct period during which there are marked changes in mood—abnormally elevated (on top of the world), expansive (flamboyant, filters off), or irritable—and goal-directed activity or energy level. Next, the uncharacteristic behavior or mood must last at least a week, or require hospitalization. Third, there must be at least three other symptoms (or four if the abnormal mood is irritability) from the following checklist:

• inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
• decreased need for sleep (for example, feeling rested after just a few hours’ sleep)
• more talkative or sociable than usual, or pressure to keep talking
• flight of ideas or the feeling that thoughts are racing
• easily distracted by unimportant or irrelevant things
• Increase in activity levels, either goal-directed (such as taking on new projects or socializing more) or a restless busyness
• plunging into reckless activities like buying sprees, promiscuity or high-risk business deals

Furthermore, symptoms must significantly affect the ability to manage at work or school, pursue usual social activities, or maintain relationships.

Hypomanic episode

If manic symptoms last at least four days but less than a week, the episode is deemed hypomanic. Symptoms don’t interfere too much with work, relationships and usual pursuits—in fact, hypomania often brings a sense of feeling energized and able to accomplish more—but changes in sleep and behavior mark a distinct departure from the norm and are noticeable to others. Judgment may be shaky. Hypomania is often a border state leading into or out of mania, and sometimes alternates with depression. For some people, hypomania can induce irritability and agitation (dysphoria) rather than a productive high (euphoria).

Major depressive episode

Diagnosis relies on five or more symptoms co-occurring nearly every day, for most of the day, during a two-week period. One of the symptoms has to be either low mood (feeling sad or empty, crying frequently) or significant loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities. Other possible symptoms include:
• weight gain or weight loss (when not dieting), or an increase or decrease in appetite
• inability to sleep or sleeping too much
• observable restlessness or moving uncharacteristically slowly
• fatigue or loss of energy
• feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt or inappropriate guilt
• diminished ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions
• recurring thoughts of death or suicide

In addition, the symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in everyday life.

About the author:

Has 14 Articles

Elizabeth Forbes, a veteran reporter and editor, has been overseeing content for esperanza and bp Magazine since 2009.

The Brains Of Bipolar Disorder Patients Look Different

Posted on


By Nathan Collins

While people with Type I and the less-severe Type II bipolar disorder share some of the same symptoms, there are significant differences in the physical structure of their brains. Type I sufferers have somewhat smaller brain volume, researchers report in the Journal of Affective Disorders, while those with Type II appear to have less robust white matter.

As brain imaging technologies have advanced and matured over the past few decades, there’s been considerable interest in understanding whether and how there are differences between the brains of people with mental illness and those without. In particular, neuroscientists studying depression have been interested in structural variation, such as differences in total brain volume. Still, the various forms of bipolar disorder have received somewhat less attention than others, such as major depression, schizophrenia, or autism.

  
That led Jerome Maller and colleagues at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, to look into whether there were structural differences among the brains of people with different sorts of bipolar disorder. Using standard MRI scans—much the same as you would get if you’d had a concussion or bleeding in the brain—on 16 Type I and 15 Type II bipolar patients along with 31 healthy control subjects, the team examined whether there were differences in gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid. The team also used a relatively new technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to measure the integrity of the brains’ white matter, the long nerves called axons that connect different brain regions to each other.

Overall, there was less total brain volume—gray and white matter volume added together—and more cerebrospinal fluid volume in bipolar patients than in healthy controls, consistent with other recent studies suggesting a connection between brain volume and depression. After controlling for total brain volume, however, Type II patients’ brains were essentially the same as controls’ brains, while Type I patients had relatively higher volume in the caudate nucleus and other areas associated with reward processing and decision making. DTI studies, meanwhile, revealed that while patients with Type I and II bipolar disorder had reduced white matter integrity relative to controls, the effect was stronger among those with Type II, particularly in the frontal and prefrontal cortex, suggesting that Type II bipolar disorder is in some way a cognitive dysfunction.

Though the results are intriguing, the authors point out that their study is just the start. The team didn’t have access to data on how long patients had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, let alone how long they’d actually had the disease, which often goes undiagnosed for years or even decades. In addition to addressing those issues in future studies, the researchers also hope to improve sample sizes and gather additional data about factors such as medications, family history, and genetics.

Why a bipolar day

Posted on


World Diabetes Day, World Cancer Day, and even World Egg Day, and now, drum roll please, World Bipolar Day (WBD). WBD is a day to bring about awareness of bipolar disorder. It is the brainchild of Dr. Pichet Udomratn, a member of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) who collaborated with International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) to bring his idea to fruition. Now, each year, WBD will be celebrated on March 30, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.

The vision of WBD is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate social stigma education. Through international collaboration, the goal of World Bipolar Day is to bring the world population information about bipolar disorder that will educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness. 

But a bipolar day? Are there that many people with it to support having its own day?  

 

There are 450 million people worldwide with mental illnessOf those it is estimated that the global prevalence of bipolar disorder is between 1 and 2 percent and has been said to be as high as 5 percent,which is three times all the diabetes and 10 times all the cancers combined. 

Why then do we hear so much in the news, on television, and in conversations about other diseases like diabetes and cancer, and rarely anything about bipolar?

Mental illnesses have historically been misunderstood, feared and therefore stigmatized. The stigma is due to a lack of education, mis-education, false information, ignorance, or a need to feel superior. Its effects are especially painful and damaging to one’s self-esteem. It leaves people with mental illnesses feeling like outcasts from society. Whether the perceived stigma is real or not, it is the subjective interpretation that affects the person’s feelings of belonging. Like most groups who are stigmatized against, there are many myths surrounding mental illness. 

Enter WBD. Organizations around the world are invited to participate in this awareness campaign. Some will host educational conferences for the public or hold depression screenings; some will hold news interviews, and others like ANBD are coordinating a 5K run. IBPF, which has been collecting photos of people extolling who they are outside of their bipolar disorder, will be sharing hundreds of photos throughout the day through their social media sites.

Dispelling myths, teaching the signs and symptoms, sharing resources, and pointing out healthy living techniques will be imparted for all to use.

WBD is not about “them,” it’s for everyone. We all know someone. Join us!


Photo link

April Fool`s day

Posted on Updated on


This is Bryce Courtenay’s moving tribute to his son, Damon, a hemophiliac who died from medically acquired AIDS on April 1, 1991, at the age of 24. April Fool’s Dayis controversial, painful and heartbreaking, yet has a gentle humor. It is also life-affirming, and, above all, a testimony to the incredible regenerative strength of love: how when we confront our worst, we can become our best. This tragic yet uplifting story will change the way you think.

Bryce Courtenay about the  book:

“People kept telling me it would be a wonderful catharsis, but it was just like opening the coffin every day. The grief was extraordinary. I had to overcome it so I didn’t become sentimental, so that Damon didn’t become bigger in death than he was in life. And I had to take the contentious issue of AIDS and make an honest statement about it that is fair.”

april-fools-day Quotation-Bryce-Courtenay-time-man-Meetville-Quotes-77616

bryce courtenay`s site.

Book review

Quotes from the book