Well I’ve been tiptoeing around the web trying to find out what’s going on in the world of Mood Research and it’s made my brain ache a bit. So many diagrams, so many long words. Anyway, I’ve picked out a few choice things (that I vaguely understood) to share with you.
It has been suggested that the manic-depressive episodes of bipolar disorder are the result of a kind of evolutionary ‘feedback loop’ gone awry eg. our successes generate confidence and failures a lack thereof. This feedback loop misfires in bipolar disorder and creates an exaggerated perception of success/failure leading to an unbalanced sense of confidence (‘of course I can build a flying machine, just one more empty washing up liquid bottle and we’re airborne!’) or inadequacy (‘ I failed to create a flying machine because I am a worthless mess of a human & will never know love’) But, this doesn’t really explain why the feedback is all wonky in the first place, which is kind of what I want to know.
Research points to a genetic factor, according to The Black Dog Institute, having a parent with BAD gives you a 10% chance of developing the disorder, rising to 40% if both of your parents have it. It kind of goes without saying that stressful life events play a role in triggering symptoms of the disorder, but you can’t blame them for ‘causing’ it…and you’d need to have a word with your pineal gland and a whole raft of neurotransmitters to find out what on earth they are doing to make your moods bounce around so much. Nobody’s worked out how to communicate with the little critters as yet.
Brain imaging though, seems to be making progress into picking out the general areas of the brain that are doing odd things in patients with bipolar disorder. According to Psycheducation
Evidence is growing quite strong that a region of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex is underactive in people with bipolar disorder even when they are having no symptoms at all.
My basic understanding is that this underactive cortex wotsit is linked to decision-making and multi-tasking eg. difficulties with. Makes sense. And…this part of the brain has been shown to be more active in those taking mood medications. Which implies correlation at least.
I’m still pretty sure my brain looks like this
but I can’t prove anything. Yet.
Anyway, my next little wander round the net is going to involve Ketamine. Reading about, not taking (the internet doesn’t need Ketamine. It’s weird enough. As am I) Apparently it’s being trialled as a treatment…interesting…