Mania is a significant health issue that causes extreme bursts of energy, high levels of risk taking, and other behavior problems. Mania is often experienced by people with bipolar and when untreated, can result in hospitalization. Some research has shown a link between activation of the immune system and mania. However, it is unclear what causes that activation and how inflammation, a body process that activates the immune system, is related to mania.
To get a better understanding of how mania and inflammation are associated, Faith Dickerson of the Stanley Research Program at the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Maryland recently led a study comparing the inflammation markers of individuals hospitalized for a variety of psychological issues.
Dickerson assessed 330 participants with schizophrenia, recent psychosis, or bipolar depression and compared their inflammation markers at time of hospitalization to those of 57 clients admitted for mania. All of the participants were assessed at intake, several days after they were admitted and six months later. The inflammation levels of the participants were then compared to those of 207 control participants with no history of psychiatric issues.
Dickerson found that the participants with mania had much higher levels of inflammation markers at time of admission than all of the other participants. Interestingly, these levels were even higher than the participants receiving care for bipolar depression. This finding suggests a unique relationship between inflammation and mania.
When Dickerson assessed the participants at the six month follow-up, she found that the inflammation levels in the manic group decreased to levels found in the other participants. However, those with the highest inflammation levels at time of admission were more likely to be re-admitted for mania when compared to the manic participants with low inflammation levels.
Although the reason for increased inflammation during manic episodes is unclear, Dickerson believes her research clearly shows a link that deserves future examination. Until then, these findings can be used to shape treatments for those with mania. Dickerson added, “Interventions for the modulation of inflammation should be evaluated for the therapy of individuals with mania.”
Dickerson, F., Stallings, C., Origoni, A., Vaughan, C., Katsafanas, E., et al. (2013). A combined marker of inflammation in individuals with mania. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73520. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073520
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