As astonishing as it may seem, a recent study apparently shows that with each mood swing of bipolar disorder individuals lose a little bit of the grey matter of the brain.
The study conducted at the University of Edinburgh, examined the grey matter of the brain of individuals with bipolar disorder. The area of loss, Dr. Andrew McIntosh, lead researcher for the study, said that the areas lost controlled memory, face recognition and coordination.
Moreover, he explained, that the amount of brain tissue lost in those with bipolar disorder is greater in those who experience multiple episodes. It's also associated with a decline in some areas of mental ability.
Dr. McIntosh compared the loss of grey matter with the IQ scores of those with bipolar disorder at the start and at the end of the study. He found that as the destruction of the grey matter accumulated, those afflicted with bipolar disorder were less able to describe words as well as perform other tasks associated with the spoken word. McIntosh carefully added that the effect wasn't large enough to be statistically significant. He speculates, though, that this might be because the size of those in the bipolar disorder study was small: only 21 individuals participated.
Grey matter has historically and scientifically been linked to intelligence.
Intrigued by the findings, McIntosh also examined the evidence to see if this loss of matter had any relation to the drugs used to treat bipolar disorder. Often individuals are prescribed lithium, antidepressant or antipsychotic medications for bipolar disorder. While he didn't think that to be the case, he did say it was too early in the research to entirely rule out that possibility.
McIntosh says the findings strongly suggest that the medical community needs "to be more eager at trying to prevent manic and depressive episodes" of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a condition marked by recurrent episodes of significant disturbance of the moods. Those afflicted with bipolar disorder are troubled with manic episodes which are characterized by euphoric "highs." These same individuals with bipolar disorder are also affected with depressive episode that include a loss of appetite, sleep disturbances and even in the most serious occurrences, thoughts of suicide.