Until recently, bipolar is usually detected by family members. People with bipolar will often exhibit irrational behavior and violent mood swings that can cause disruption in family life. Often times, those with bipolar do not recognize the symptoms and only seek treatment when in very depressive states, or when urged by those around them. However, new research may be able to indicate if a person is at risk for developing bipolar. According to a study led by Michèle Wessa, Ph.D., of the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany, there may be indications of abnormalities in the brains of those who are predisposed to bipolar.
“Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed or tardily detected, leading to inadequate treatment and devastating consequences,” Michèle Wessa and her team. “The identification of objective biomarkers, such as functional and structural brain abnormalities, of bipolar disorder might improve diagnosis and help elucidate its pathophysiology.” In order to make that determination, the researchers examined several different studies conducted on people with bipolar versus those without mental health challenges. They reviewed MRI’s and other imaging data to determine if there were any significant variances in brain structure. The results revealed that those with bipolar had less gray matter in specific regions of the brain that are responsible for emotional balance and regulation.
Additionally, these same people had an increased level of brain activity in the amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus, the area of the brain that is responsible for emotional response. “These results support and refine previously proposed neurobiological models of the disorder and suggest that an imbalance between cortical-cognitive and limbic brain networks may serve as a neurobiological marker of bipolar disorder,” Wessa said. The team hopes that these new findings will allow for further research that could provide earlier interventions for those who are at risk for developing bipolar.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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