How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect The Brain?

Published on July 17th, 2018

Updated on January 3rd, 2024

How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect The Brain?

There are millions of people who currently suffer from bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes highs and lows in mood. At one end, the mood swings can cause the patient to experience episodes of depression. This could include sadness, numbness, feeling hopeless, not interested in everyday activities. The other end is what is called Mania. Mania can cause symptoms like excessive excitement, high energy, irregular behavior and irritability.

The causes and risk factors of bipolar disorder vary from person to person. A great deal of cases of bipolar disorder stem from an imbalance in the person’s brain chemistry.

Specifically, in many cases of bipolar disorder, the brain’s neurotransmitters are not balanced.

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Neurotransmitters are responsible for sending messages in the brain. They are messengers that send signals between the cells in the brain. Imbalances of neurotransmitters can cause symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The 3 main neurotransmitters are:

Each neurotransmitter has an important role in signaling different reactions through the brain. When they are out of balance, the patient will experience severe mood swings. They could also show some strange behaviors.

Example: A patient who is manic may be very talkative. They may also become very energetic and may not sleep for extended periods of time.

A patient who is experiencing a depressed state will show the opposite behaviors. They will not be interested in engaging with others. They may not seem motivated to work toward goals or even get out of bed. They will likely feel fatigued and sleep for extended periods of time.

Research has found certain medications can help the neurotransmitters stay in balance. Since it is a chemical imbalance, medication is needed to help regulate the brain.

Such medications include:

It can take time to find the right medication, but once it is found the patient tends to feel better. For most effective results it is important for the patient also seek counseling. With counseling, the patient will learn ways to manage symptoms of both manic and depressed episodes. It will also help the patient learn how to cope with the emotional issues and life stressors they face each day.

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