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Sleep disruption has long been associated with bipolar disorder. But could it CAUSE the condition?
Anyone who knows bipolar disorder knows that sleep disruption goes hand in hand with its symptoms - however, what’s changed in recent years is the newly developed hypothesis that sleep disturbances may actually CAUSE the disorder.
Dr. Michael J. McCarthy, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at UC San Diego, noted that sleep disruption has always been considered a consequence of disease - but HIS research aims to determine if it contributes to disease progression in the first place.
For example, one application of this research has been in looking at the effectiveness of medications. According to Medscape, McCarthy’s team tried to find out whether sleep disruption could explain why only approximately a third of patients with bipolar disorder respond to lithium. They discovered that those who responded well were more inclined to exhibit higher "morningness scores" and had fewer symptoms of depression, fewer signs of mania, and fewer suicide attempts.
McCarthy noted, "We still don't know if the circadian effect is essential to the effectiveness of lithium, but it's the best evidence we have so far that at least in a subset of patients, circadian abnormalities are a predictive marker of response… This may help in developing personalized medicine for bipolar disorder."
Another researcher noted, "If we can understand why it is that specific genes are turned on in the brain at different times of day, then maybe we can understand why the brain is more vulnerable at those points. The grand hope is that we can really manipulate the system to lower people's risk for the disease."
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This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.