There is increasing evidence that many illnesses categorized diagnostically in the DSM-IV and ICD-10 under “Mental and Behavioral Disorders” are actually systemic (body-wide) disorders. They are physical illnesses affecting the brain—i.e. biological disorders. This systemic effect is well-documented in autism.
Another, even more revealing study has come out about inflammation and neurobiological disorders (biological disorders, as opposed to emotional & personality problems) affecting brain function. This one, from the Netherlands, shows that inflammation of both body and brain precedes the psychiatric symptoms of bipolar disorder.
The study, nicely reported by Science News, explains that many genes involved in our immune / inflammatory responses get revved up. The study also suggests that anti-inflammatory agents could help treat these disorders. Interestingly, lithium, commonly used for bipolar disorder, which has been found to help re-grow and preserve brain neurons, brought down the activity level of these inflammatory genes.
According to the article, data show that risk of type I diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, celiac, and other inflammatory diseases may be elevated in our children.
The lead clinical immunologist of the study, Hemmo Drexhage, says of bipolar, “It’s not just a disease of the brain, it affects the entire system.” Interestingly, this is exactly what the medical community has been saying about autism.
This may help explain why so many nutritional supplements and anti-inflammatory diets help many of our children. It may explain why Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) is proving to be helpful in preventing or delaying the escalation of some brain symptoms from becoming so severe they get called “schizophrenia.”
Inflammation affecting body and brain definitely seemed involved in my younger daughter's case (See book: It's Not Mental).
To get started learning about the link between nutrition, inflammation, genes, and disease--and what to do about it, here are more links on this site and others, and some books on the topic:
- Inflammation, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar Disorder
- Important Links to Help Our Children
- Stress, Immune Response, and Illness
- Allergies, Asthma, and “Mental” Illness
- Brain Health: Omega-3 Fatty Acids ("Fish Oil")
- Mitochondrial Dysfunction & Psychiatric Symptoms
- Bipolar and Off Her Meds
- Brain Health: Nutrition and Epigenetics
- http://www.thenutritionreporter.com/ (Off-site Link)
- The Inflammation Syndrome: Your Nutrition Plan for Great Health, Weight Loss, and Pain-Free Living
Inflammation Syndrome: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and
Reverse Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies, and Asthma
- Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn Off Disease-Causing Genes and Slow Down Aging
- Feed Your Genes Right
- A Discriminating Messenger RNA Signature for Bipolar Disorder Formed by an Aberrant Expression of Inflammatory Genes in Monocytes
- Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(4):395-407.
- Body and Brain: Possible link between inflammation and bipolar disorder by Tina Hesman Saey Science News April 12, 2008
Property of: www.ItsNotMental.com
Last Updated: 05 May 2012
this seems so right;
before my affective psychosis began, about 3 years prior, I developed bone pain followed by inflammatory bowel disease. I now take fish oil daily and am planning to come off my Risperdal soon. Im hoping I can go with Neurontin, or better yet just the fish oil.
I am now 60 and was diagnosed bipolar at age 40 and started taking Lithium. I had symptoms all my life of course. Since taking Lithium I have much less arthritis. When I have a bipolar incident I run a low grade fever. It always takes 2 to 3 months to pull out of it. If I really push myself when I crash, then for sure I will provoke a major arthritic attack. I found that I could major arthritis with arthritic diet and lifestyle. Taking Lithium made all that easier. I would say for sure there is a connection between my bipolar and inflammation.
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