13 Effects of Bipolar Disorder on the Body

Cardiovascular system

When you have anxiety in addition to bipolar disorder, this can affect your cardiovascular system, too.

This includes:

  • heart palpitations
  • rapid heart rate
  • an increased pulse

Higher-than-normal blood pressure may also occur.

People with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with anxiety or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI).

Endocrine system

Your endocrine system consists of hormones that rely heavily on messaging signals from the brain. When these signals are disrupted, you can experience hormone fluctuations.

Bipolar disorder can cause changes to your libido. Mania may put your sex drive on overload, while depression can significantly decrease it.

Some people experience poor judgment with this disorder, which can also increase the risk for poor decision-making in terms of sexual health.

Bipolar disorder may also affect your weight, especially during depressive phases. With depression, you might experience a decrease in your appetite, resulting in weight loss.

It’s also possible to have the opposite experience — your appetite might increase, thereby making you gain weight.

Skeletal and muscular systems

Bipolar disorder doesn’t directly affect the bones and muscles, but if you experience depressive episodes, these can affect your skeletal and muscular systems.

Depression can lead to unexplained aches and pains, which can make everyday activities difficult to manage. You might also find it difficult to exercise due to your discomfort.

Moreover, if you do experience depression, weakness and fatigue are common and can be accompanied with sleeping too much or an inability to sleep.

Gastrointestinal system

Anxiety associated with bipolar disorder can make your feel tired and irritable. It can also affect your gastrointestinal system.

Some of these effects include:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Such symptoms are often accompanied with feelings of panic, or a sense of impending doom. You might also sweat and breathe rapidly.

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