Bipolar disorder is one of the most challenging mental health conditions for people and their loved ones to manage. People struggling with bipolar disorder experience dramatic shifts in their mood and energy levels. These changes can make it difficult to function at work or home. Here, you will learn what a bipolar brain looks like and how this condition affects everyday life.
If you or someone you love is struggling with bipolar disorder, getting the right help is essential. Bayview Recovery’s Washington bipolar disorder treatment center offers evidence-based treatment consisting of medication and behavioral and holistic therapies. Call us at 855.478.3650 to discover how our whole-person approach can help you live a better life with bipolar disorder.
What Does a Bipolar Brain Look Like?
A bipolar disorder brain looks different from a healthy, neurotypical brain. The brain is made up of gray matter and white matter, with gray matter governing how your body processes sensory information. The brain of a person with bipolar disorder shows a thinning of the gray matter, which can lead to:
- Challenges with tasks involving speaking and writing
- Trouble regulating your reaction time
- Struggles with impulse control
- Increased sensitivity to stimuli
- Inability to focus
Several gray matter brain regions demonstrate disparities between people with and without the condition.
Studies of people with affective disorders like depression and bipolar disorder showed that the left side of the hypothalamus is larger than average. And the size of that region correlated with the severity of their condition. The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating the following:
- Hunger and thirst
- Heart rate
- Body temperature
How does bipolar disorder cause enlargement in the hypothalamus? It is believed that the increased activity due to a more sensitive stress response could impact the physical size of the corresponding part of the brain.
The hippocampus tends to shrink in people with bipolar disorder. This area of the brain is related to learning and memory. When it shrinks, you can experience the following:
- Difficulty regulating emotions
- Poor memory and recall
- Frustration and irritability
The reduction in the size of the hippocampus in a bipolar disorder brain can make it more difficult for people to live a full life. Extreme mood shifts, frustration, and impaired cognitive function can interfere with work performance and personal relationships.
How Does a Bipolar Disorder Brain Work?
The brain of a bipolar person functions somewhat differently from those without the disorder. A few of the main differences between the two are:
- How a bipolar brain responds to stimuli differs from a healthy, neurotypical brain.
- Neurotypical people process information differently than those with bipolar disorder.
- The way that the brain of a bipolar person responds to stress is distinct from other people’s responses.
The brain is an organ that is constantly adapting to its environment. When it comes to bipolar disorder, the brain can be affected by stress in a way that makes it more susceptible to developing this mental illness.
The way that the brain processes information can be affected by stressful events. When a person experiences stress, their brain releases hormones and chemicals that cause them to feel different emotions. These feelings are usually negative, such as anxiety or anger. Brain chemistry can also be altered when someone experiences chronic stress over a long period, triggering symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Find Bipolar Disorder Treatment in Washington at Bayview Recovery
Now that you know how bipolar disorder affects the brain, you can understand why you or a loved one may think, feel, or act a certain way. Although bipolar disorder can make life more challenging, it does not have to rob you of your quality of life. With the help of Bayview Recovery’s bipolar disorder treatment, you can learn how to manage your symptoms and find greater emotional balance. Contact Bayview Recovery today at 855.478.3650 to get started.