View Full Version : Bipolar Disorder causes and questions
12-06-2006, 09:43 PM
What are the current theories on the cause(s) of bipolar disorder (manic depression)? Are the causes more nature or nurture? Are any non-psychiatric diseases commonly seen with it? i.e. is my also having hypothyroidism (prior to the BP, not as a result of lithium) unusual?
How do MRI or PET scans of folks with bipolar differ from normal folks? How does the brain look different for someone at a BP low versus a BP high? Do the scans of rapid cyclers (more frequent mood swings) look different from a non-rapid cycler? Does the bipolar depression look different than clinical depression on the scans?
It seems odd to me that anticonvulsants are the best mood stabilizers. What do mood swings have to do with diseases like epilepsy? Speaking of mood stabilizers, is lithium also used as an anticonvulsant?
Are the newer anticonvulsants (lamictal, tegretol, etc) becoming more common in treatment than lithium and depakote? Speaking from experience, lamictal has no side effects for me, unlike both lithium and depakote.
For the record, I have bipolar disorder, and yes, I'm under the care of a good psychiatrist.
12-06-2006, 09:58 PM
You ask a lot of questions there kid. I am Bipolar Type I and I also did my graduate work in behavioral neuroscience. The stuff you are asking is often outside of the realm of current scientific and medical knowledge at the moment. Most complex neurophysiological disorders are.
You ask some pretty specific questions and even a summary of the current state of knowledge is going to be lengthy. I have a whole set of books on the subject but they don't have all the answers. Lithium works like a charm for me even though they tried it after several others for some reason. I also take Lamictal and Seroquel and that is what seems to work best. Modern psychiatry, for all its wonders, still tends to be reactive and rather vague about why certain things work on certain people and not others. People simply don't have good answers why that might be much of the time.
Bipolar disorder is currently believed to a complex neurological disorder involing second-messenger systems. These are like neurotransmitters but their action is more long-term and complex making them even harder to study. Bipolar disorder is definitely believed to be almost completely biological in origin and it appears to be hereditary to some degree as well.
You seem interested on the subject at an unusually detailed level so I would google the current research and where it is going. That is the only real way you are going to get an answer detailed enough.
C K Dexter Haven
12-07-2006, 09:00 AM
I'd also like to suggest that you ask your doctor some of these questions.
I'm hoping that you will get some more responses here, but, as Shagnasty comments, few of us will want to type up the sixteen-page answers that you're looking for.
12-07-2006, 09:26 AM
It seems odd to me that anticonvulsants are the best mood stabilizers.
There are only two true mood stabilizers: lithium and Lamictal (an anti-convulsant). The other anti-convulsants are antimanic agents with no proven antidepressant effects.
Speaking of mood stabilizers, is lithium also used as an anticonvulsant?
Are the newer anticonvulsants (lamictal, tegretol, etc) becoming more common in treatment than lithium and depakote?
The new popular medications for bipolar disorder are the atypical antipsychotics like Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Abilify. They are antimanic agents. Also, Lamictal has become popular for its relatively good side-effect profile. The psychiatrists I have encountered are certainly less likely to prescribe lithium and the other anti-convulsants than they were in the past, because there is a risk of kidney and liver damage with them, respectively, and the new drugs are perceived to be "safer." However, they are also new and relatively untested, so time will tell.
Speaking from experience, lamictal has no side effects for me, unlike both lithium and depakote.
This is a common experience.
I have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder I and have studied psychology and psychopharmacology.
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