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Can More Normal Brain Function and Anatomy be Restored with Bipolar Medications?

February 22nd, 2016

A recent scientific review explored available evidence to evaluate whether common bipolar medications can help to restore normal brain function, and this review was made possible thanks to the last two decades of MRI acquisition and analysis advancements. These advancements make it possible for researchers to identify the neuroanatomical abnormalities which can be found in a number of mental disorders. The researchers who performed the review evaluated the effect of the most common bipolar medications on the brain of individuals with bipolar disorder. These medications included antidepressants, lithium, anti psychotics, and mood stabilizers. People who have bipolar disorder are typically treated with drugs that help stabilize mood. During episodes of mania or depression the individual is usually given antidepressant or anti psychotic drugs as well, depending on whether the patient is displaying depression or mania.

Past studies and MRI analysis efforts have shown that patients who need bipolar medications because they have this disorder also tend to have deficits in the volume of gray matter in the brain. This is especially true in brain areas that are associated with mood regulation Previous research has also shown that this specific mental disorder also has associations with white matter disorganization in certain areas. The latest analysis showed that bipolar medications did seem to restore more normal brain function and brain anatomy. Some of the evidence evaluated showed that lithium and other mood stabilizers are associated with an increase in the volume of gray matter. This latest review is very promising and it means that bipolar medications may not only treat the symptoms of this disorder but also work at treating the cause as well.

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