Bipolar disorder, previously known as “manic depression,” is a brain-based disorder. This condition is characterized by one or more occurrences of manic or “mixed” episodes, and in some cases, may include a major depressive episode.
Moreover, the disorder has the potential to affect virtually all other areas of your body, from your energy levels and appetite to your muscles and even libido.
Read on to find out how bipolar can affect different areas of your body.
The effects of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is identified by periods of manic episodes.
During a manic phase, you have above-average energy levels, and may not sleep much. You can also experience irritability, restlessness, and an increased sex drive.
If you develop depression, this phase can have the opposite effects on the body. You may feel a sudden lack of energy and require more sleep, along with feeling depressed and hopeless.
Appetite changes can also occur if the person develops depression. As with mania, depression can also cause irritability and restlessness.
It’s also possible to experience a mixed-state of mania and depression. You might notice symptoms from both phases.
Central nervous system
Bipolar disorder primarily affects the brain, which is part of your central nervous system.
Composed of both the brain and the spine, your central nervous system is made up of a series of nerves that are in control of different body activities.
Some of the effects include:
- feelings of guilt
- severe sadness
- loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
- being in an excessively good mood
- feelings of hyperactivity
- being easily distracted
- being overly defensive
- having a provocative attitude
Bipolar disorder can also make it difficult to concentrate.
When you’re in the midst of a manic phase, you might find your mind racing and have a hard time controlling your thoughts. You may even talk faster than usual.
A depressive episode can also cause concentration difficulties, but your mind may feel a lot slower than normal. You might feel restless and have a hard time making decisions. Your memory may also be low.
Bipolar disorder can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Manic phases often mean that you need very little sleep, and depressive episodes can result in sleeping more or less than normal. It’s not uncommon to have insomnia in both instances.
Insomnia can become especially dangerous in bipolar disorder, as you may be more tempted to take sleeping pills. Such risks are more associated with mania than depression.