Posted by: bipolarmystic | December 21, 2012

What researchers say

So I know some of you were probably thinking that my first post back was pretty short 🙂  Well that’s because I have a whole lot more percolating.  During my most recent episode I began to discover what researchers think about bipolar.  It turns out they think more about it than I realized.  When I did my reading and researching, I wasn’t thinking of blogging so my sources will remain ethereal.  In the future I plan to give sources for all these interesting tidbits!  So we all know the tired old story that bipolar has a strongly genetic

Brain on Fire Book Cover

from Simon & Schuster

component right?  Well it turns out that one identical twin with bipolar predicts a 50% chance of the other twin developing bipolar when raised in different environments.  So one could infer that perhaps about 50% of a person’s chance of developing bipolar is related to environmental factors.  Of course this is all wishy-washy soft science, but it seems to make logical sense.  Now what could these environmental factors be you ask…some people think it could be dietary.  I don’t give a lot of credence to this idea because I was a strict vegan for over a year and it did not “cure” me by any means.  If I have to go any stricter than that it’s way more hassle than my meds!  But in all seriousness, it is possible that some dietary or other environmental factor is at play.  Researchers have found that the spinal fluid of bipolar patients present more inflammatory tissue than neurotypicals.  This is pretty interesting because many diseases once misunderstood are now known to be inflammatory conditions of one type or another.  Finally just for giggles bipolar folks do present unusual activity in brain scans, especially in the goal centers of the brain.

I work at a library and recently placed a hold for the book “Brain on Fire.”  The book is about a young woman who develops a severe mental illness as the result of an autoimmune condition.  Evidently about 217 people have been diagnosed so far and the condition (NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis) could be linked to autism.  Folks with this condition produce antibodies that attack receptors in the hippocampus.  If enough of the receptors are attacked psychoses ensues.  When more receptors are incapacitated, catatonia ensues and eventually death in some cases.  I look forward to reading the book!  Check out an excerpt here.  It sort of boggles the mind to think such a relatively simple mechanism could be the cause of so much trouble.  Will researchers one day discover similar mechanisms in our brains?  And if they do can they “cure” us?  What would that mean?  Want to continue the conversation?  Visit the bipolar mystic Facebook page here.

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