Effects of Bipolar Disorder on The Body

brain

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by episodes of depression and periods of mania.

Sometimes the effects of these bipolar episodes are so intense that they often lead to physical symptoms in the body.

So, it's essential to learn about both the mental and physical effects of bipolar disorder on the body.

This will help you understand how the disorder affects your overall well-being, the best treatment plan for you, and how best you can support bipolar disorder for others in need.

One of the ways bipolar disorder affects the body is that it targets the brain, a part of the central nervous system.

Your central nervous system consists of a series of nerves working together to control several body functions and brain activity.

Bipolar disorder can therefore be linked to irritability, inability to concentrate, severe sadness, aggression, and other side effects.

Also, bipolar disorder indirectly affects the skeletal and muscular systems.

Depression episodes, for instance, may have adverse effects on the human body, thus causing symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, headaches, etc.

In addition, symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as irritability, anxiety, and tiredness, can affect the gastrointestinal system and lead to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

Read on to learn more about the effects of bipolar disorder on the body.

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Andreea Felea, LPCC

Andreea Felea, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Alex Wiley, LPC

Alex Wiley, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Amber Chambless, LPC

Amber Chambless, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Megan Brausam, LPC

Megan Brausam, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Randal Thomas, SWC

Randal Thomas, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Michele Stahle, LPC

Michele Stahle, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424

Central Nervous System

The brain, which is a component of your central nervous system, is the main organ affected by bipolar illness.

The central nervous system comprises the spine and brain and is composed of a succession of nerves that control various body activities and functions.

Thus, one of the physical effects of bipolar disorder on the body is that it affects how the central nervous system operates.

Some of the effects include overactivity, low attention span, being overly defensive, proactiveness, guilt, hopelessness, being overly happy, severe sadness, irritability, forgetfulness, etc.

Bipolar disorder can also affect your ability to concentrate.

When in a manic episode, you might find it difficult to control your thoughts, and your mind might start to race.

On the other hand, during a depressive episode, your thinking may become slower than usual, and you may experience memory impairment.

Similarly, bipolar disorder can disrupt your sleeping pattern.

When you experience manic episodes, you might sleep a lot less; however, depressive episodes often necessitate more sleep than usual.

Sleeplessness is a common occurrence in both phases, and this can be problematic for people with bipolar disorder.

Cardiovascular System

The effects of bipolar disorder on the body aren't limited to brain functioning only.

Certain co-occurring conditions of bipolar disorder, such as anxiety, can adversely impact your cardiovascular system.

This part of the body comprises the blood vessels and heart, making it among the most vital systems in the human body.

When experiencing anxiety during a bipolar episode, you may also experience an increased pulse, heart rate, and heart palpitations, which can be detrimental to your physical health.

Symptoms associated with depressive episodes can also increase the chances of exposure to heart diseases.

According to research conducted by American Heart Association, different forms of depression, including mania depression associated with bipolar disorder, may lead to heart palpitations or rapid heart rate.

This inadvertently lowers the quantity of blood circulating to the heart and causes the adrenal glands to release a hormone known as cortisol.

If treatment is delayed, these symptoms may lead to heart disease.

Thus, early diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder are crucial.

Endocrine System

Your endocrine system is composed of hormones that strongly rely on messaging signals sent from the brain.

In cases where these signals encounter an interruption, hormone fluctuation often occurs.

Thus, studying the endocrine system functioning of a bipolar person allows you to understand better the effects of bipolar disorder on the body,

Bipolar disorder has several effects on this system, but the most common is a low sex drive. Reduced libido mainly occurs in bipolar people experiencing depressive episodes.

On the other hand, if you're experiencing manic or hypomanic episodes, there's a tendency to have an increased interest in sexual activity or higher libido, which may cause you to make impulsive or rash sexual decisions.

You may simultaneously develop other impulsive behaviors such as gambling, reckless driving, rash spending, poor decision-making, and so on associated with manic depressive illness.

You may also experience weight loss as a side effect of bipolar disorder, especially during a depression phase.

Depressive episodes often cause a decrease in appetite, thus resulting in weight loss.

However, there's also a possibility to have the opposite effect: you might have a larger appetite leading to weight gain.

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Bipolar Disorder Therapists in Colorado

Andreea Felea, LPCC

Andreea Felea, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Alex Wiley, LPC

Alex Wiley, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Amber Chambless, LPC

Amber Chambless, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Megan Brausam, LPC

Megan Brausam, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Randal Thomas, SWC

Randal Thomas, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Michele Stahle, LPC

Michele Stahle, LPC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Joshua Goldberg, LPCC

Colorado
(719) 345-2424

Skeletal and Muscular System

The effect of bipolar disorder on the body can also be seen in the skeletal and muscular systems, as depressive episodes and mania phases can indirectly impact your bones and muscles.

For instance, depression in bipolar disorder may cause unexpected body aches and joint pain, making it difficult to feel comfortable or function properly.

You may also experience difficulty working out or participating in other physical activities.

Moreover, if you experience bipolar depressive or hypomanic episodes, you may feel weak and fatigued most of the time, followed by over-sleeping or an inability to sleep.

Bipolar disorder is also linked to other skeletal conditions, such as sarcopenia.

Researchers believe that oxidative stress, which is associated with bipolar disorder, causes the development of sarcopenia.

One way to minimize oxidative stress is to include plenty of antioxidants, vegetables, fruits, and other healthy food in your diet.

However, a depressive or manic episode can make it difficult to follow a balanced diet and get enough antioxidants to combat oxidative stress.

Gastrointestinal System

Due to the symptoms associated with bipolar episodes, your gastrointestinal system may be affected.

For instance, bipolar disorder can increase your irritability, tiredness, and anxiety levels, thus indirectly impacting your digestive system.

Thus, one of the effects of bipolar disorder on the body is that it affects the normal functioning of your gastrointestinal system.

Also, symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as stress and anxiety, can leave you feeling nervous and irritated and eventually cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or vomiting.

These sensations are often accompanied by a sense of looming doom or panic.

You may also experience rapid breathing or profuse sweating due to these stomach problems.

In addition, some researchers believe that abnormal gut health and inflammation are causative factors of bipolar disorder itself.

Current research on the link between these two conditions can help affected people control both psychological and physical symptoms of bipolar disorder. 

Conclusion

Contrary to popular myths, bipolar disorder is much more than a mood destabilizing disorder.

It can potentially affect different areas of your body and cause significant side effects.

It is thus important to be aware of the physical and mental impacts of this condition to provide support for bipolar disorder for those in need.

Physical effects of bipolar disorder on the body occurs in the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, endocrine sysytem, gastrointestinal system, and skeletal and muscular system. 

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February 27th, 2024

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