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Bipolar Disorder: is it Due to Low Cholesterol?

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One of the most troubling disorders in mental health is bipolar disorder. What causes bipolar disorder is a mystery. Individuals with bipolar have extremes of mood ranging from mania to severe depression. During the manic phase they are prone to thoughtless behavior and during depression, they are at a risk for self-harm.

For some years, experts have been investigating the link between levels of cholesterol and mood disorders. Levels of cholesterol are abundant in the brain and make up a significant portion of nerves. Cholesterol is essential for many types of nerve function including maintaining tissue flexibility, sponginess and a variety of ion-exchange routes.

Experimental studies have demonstrated that low cholesterol can impair function of serotonergic nerves and function. In fact, there have also been a few studies showing that people who have self-injurious behavior and attempted suicide often have low levels of serotonin precursor levels. Unfortunately these studies have not always been replicated and there has been a wide range of inconsistent observations.

So far, measuring cholesterol levels to assess suicide risk has not shown any validity. In fact, some experts believe that the low cholesterol in people who self-harm may be due to depression and poor nutrition. When it comes to people with bipolar disorder, several studies have shown that some of these individuals have lower serum cholesterol. Unfortunately, treatment of mania and follow-up on cholesterol levels has again not produced consistent results.

If it is believed that low cholesterol may be playing a role in the etiology of bipolar disorder, one would suspect that the thousands of people who take statins to lower cholesterol would be predisposed to this mental disorder. Again meta-analysis has not shown any relation between cholesterol lowering drugs and an increased rate of suicide or self-harm.

To further confuse the issue is that several epidemiology studies show that bipolar individuals have a slight higher tendency to develop the metabolic syndrome. This is a global perspective and found to be associated with poor outcomes and less satisfactory response to treatment.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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