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Bipolar Disorder

Dr. Chris D. Meletis

We all have ups and downs in our mood.  Sometimes we are happier and sometimes life gets to us and causes us short periods of melancholy or feeling down.  However, bipolar disorder is a diagnosable condition where the highs are very extreme, with ups that are called “manic” and downs often referred to “major depressive episodes.” This article will discuss who’s at risk, the symptoms of bipolar disorder and some clinical considerations.

Overview:

First and foremost, bipolar disorder is not just a brain condition, it also affects the entire person’s view of the world, how much energy they have, their sense of worth, job performance, ability to maintain relationships, academic performance, suicidal tendency and even sense of wellness.

Causes:

It is believed that there are many causes of bipolar disorder.  What puts a person and their family at risk?  There is a genetic link to bipolar disorder for many individuals suffering from this debilitating condition. Children with parents or siblings with bipolar disorder are significantly more likely to develop the illness.

Yet it is not so simple, as studies have shown that identical twins of a bipolar parent do not always develop the condition, despite their identical genes.  There are several risk factors to consider, such as a Westernized diet, a high fat diet, gluten intake (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, pumpernickel, etc.), metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Eating MSG (monosodium glutamate) and other sources of glutamate, such as whey protein (from dairy) and other sources serve as potential triggers in susceptible individuals.

Individuals with the MTHF-R  gene mutation are also at a notably higher risk. MTFH-R (methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase) is a faulty enzyme that slows down the process of methylation. Methylation is responsible for various bodily processes including cellular repair, detoxification and healthy immune system function. The hampering of this process can lead to medical problems. The great news is that you can get a MTHF-reductase genetic enzyme mutation test and if you have the mutation you can be prescribed methyl-folate (also known at Deplin®).

Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include: Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:
Mood Changes

  • A long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or outgoing mood

 

Extreme irritability

  • Behavioral Changes
  • Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects
  • Being overly restless
  • Sleeping little or not being tired
  • Having an unrealistic belief in one’s abilities
  • Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors
Mood Changes

  • An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless

 

  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.

Behavioral Changes

  • Feeling tired or “slowed down”
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering and making decisions
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Changing eating, sleeping or other habits
  • Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Source:  NIH website accessed 6/23/14  www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

Clinical Considerations:

Though the severity of the symptoms vary greatly, the fact is individuals with this condition face struggles in life that are not necessary to tolerate without trying to get a grasp on ways to control the altered brain and full body chemistry.

There are standard prescription medications that are used with this illness, including, but not limited to, the use of the mineral lithium.  The fact is that lithium can also be gleaned from the diet as well, although not at the high levels used at prescriptive levels.  Depending on what part of the world you are living, and which specific region you get your vegetables from, will determine how much lithium you are getting on a daily basis. Foods that are known to contain lithium include peppers, potatoes, tomatoes (basically the nightshade family), eggs, milk and certain grains depending on the soil content of where they were harvested.

Increase fish oil intake, lessen caffeine and MSG rich foods, make sure B vitamins are being consumed at adequate levels and lastly get tested. Remember, “It is better to test, not guess!” A MTHF-reductase mutation and a urine neurochemistry (brain chemistry) test are recommended.

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