With New Studies Bipolar Disorder Will Be Differentiated from Depression
Bipolar disorder and depression can both lead to periods of deep sadness and gloom. Mental health professionals too find it difficult to differentiate between these two conditions. However, new studies have suggested that these disorders may have very different types of brain activity. It’s useful to keep in regular touch with a bipolar news blog for the latest news about such studies.
In the new research, scientists scanned the brains of patients having clinical depression and other individuals having bipolar disorder and gauged their reactions to emotional images. The scientists found that there were differences in the amount of action in brain areas that participate in the regulation of emotions in patients with bipolar disorder, compared with patients having unipolar depression (this term is used for distinguishing the condition from bipolar disorder).
Even psychiatrists cannot distinguish between uni- and bipolar depression. This inability is a big problem because normally antidepressant medication is not effective for bipolar disorder patients. Moreover, these medications can even increase the risk of these patients of getting a manic attack. During such attacks, a bipolar disorder patient may become disturbed, euphoric and sometimes psychotic.
In such a scenario, the new studies will hopefully diagnose and treat patients with these problems, correctly and in a better way. The study has been published in the JAMA Psychiatry of 6th May 2015.
People with either of these diseases may get attacks of severe depression and problem in regulating their emotions, regardless of whether they are happy or sad. However, unlike patients with depression, bipolar disorder patients also undergo manic bouts, during which they can become utmost destructive. During these bouts, these patients may have affairs, sell all their belongings or buy objects they can’t afford. Because of the new research, scientists have now found way to differentiate between these conditions. 42 persons with depression, 35 with bipolar disorder and 36 with none of these disorders were studied in this research.
The subjects’ brains were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging while checking their abilities to regulate their sentiments. Researches did this with the help of photos of people showing various emotions, like happy, sad, fearful and neutral). The participants were instructed to either experience the photos passively or regulate their thoughts actively by distancing themselves from whatever they were seeing, e.g. by reminding themselves that that was just a picture. The subjects rated how intensely they felt after watching each photo. The researchers measured their ability individually of regulating their emotions by deducting the rating of the passively watched photos from the rating reported after the subjects had distanced themselves actively from the photos.
The researchers found a striking difference between the brain activity of both types of patients. In a non-depressed state, patients with bipolar disorder showed more activity in brain than that in the brains of depressed patients in an area known as dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which actively participates in the regulation of emotions. This indicates that the brain of bipolar patients have to work harder than that of depression patients to attain the same level of emotional control.