Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

In our clinic we utilise various neuromodulation techniques to reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder conditions.

Information about the disorder:

Bipolar disorder, which used to be known as manic-depressive illness (MDI), is a common, severe, and persistent mood disorder. These individuals experience episodes of a frenzied state known as mania (or hypomania), typically alternating with episodes of depression. The condition is usually divided into two types: Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorders.

Bipolar I disorder: The person with this condition experiences at least one lifetime episode of mania, and usually episodes of depression. This is the more severe form of the condition and the person is more likely to experience a psychotic episode, which could result in hospitalisation.

Bipolar II disorder: In this condition there are episodes of depression plus episodes of a mild form of mania called hypomania (persistent elevation of mood, energy and activity). Generally this form is less severe, with no psychotic experiences, and with episodes tending to last only hours to a few days.

Usually bipolar disorder goes unrecognised and it can take up to 10 years for an accurate diagnosis. It should be noted that everyone has mood swings from time to time. It is only when these mood swings become extreme and interfere with personal and professional life that bipolar disorder may be present and medical assessment may be necessary.

The underlying pathological mechanisms of bipolar disorder have not yet been determined. However, studies indicate that it has a substantial genetic component. Functional MRI findings suggest that abnormal neural modulation between ventral prefrontal and limbic regions, especially the amygdala (part of the brain which plays an important role in the processing of memory and emotional reactions), likely contribute to poor emotional regulation and mood symptoms.

One model suggested by Robert Post in 1992 is the “kindling” hypothesis. According to this model, when people who are genetically predisposed toward bipolar disorder experience stressful events, the stress threshold at which mood changes occur becomes progressively lower, until the episodes eventually start spontaneously in the absence of any stressor.

There are a number of pharmacological and psychotherapeutic techniques used to treat bipolar disorder. However, non-invasive neuromodulatory techniques are also emerging as powerful tools in the management of these individuals. Increasing number of research studies indicate the beneficial effects of neurofeedback and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).