Studies have shown that people who have bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of dementia. Because bipolar disorders are bound to alter brain structure and chemistry over time, there may be gradual damage to brain cells that can lead to symptoms of dementia such as memory loss and poor concentration.
What is the connection between bipolar disorder and dementia?
- Changes in attention span and focus
- Racing thoughts during a manic phase
- Anxiety and panic episodes
- Difficulty remembering things
- Psychosis, including delusions and hallucinations
Because people with bipolar disorder experience different moods, there is a high likelihood that they may have memory impairment in between these mood swings. Many studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder have complained of memory loss during high moods, low moods, and in between. The more intense the mood, the higher the likelihood of memory loss.
What can cause people with bipolar disorder to develop dementia?
According to researchers, people with bipolar disorder may have some changes in their brain anatomy. Parts of the brain that undergo drastic changes in a person with bipolar disorder and their function in a healthy person are as follows:
|Part of the brain||Function|
|Prefrontal cortex||Plays a role in planning, attention, problem-solving, and memory|
|Anterior cingulate cortex||Emotional and cognitive functions|
Other factors that can worsen dementia in people with bipolar disorder include:
- Medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and sleep apnea
- Health-related behaviors such as:
- Substance abuse
- Impaired cognitive function
In some cases, treatment for bipolar disorder can have adverse effects, including memory loss. For example, bipolar disorder treatments that may cause dementia include:
What types of memories are affected with bipolar disorder?
|Types of memory||Function||Effects of bipolar disorder|
|Working memory||Stores information temporarily until a mental task is performed||Changes in working memory can make it hard to function at work or study|
|Verbal learning and memory||Enables you to remember the words you see or hear||Makes it hard to recall or retell events and stories from the past|
|Executive functioning||Plays a role in planning and prioritizing tasks||Affects the ability to plan and perform tasks|
|Declarative memory||Involved in recalling and explaining past events||Makes it hard to recall or retell events and stories from the past|
|Spatial working memory||Helps with recalling shapes, colors, locations, and movements||Makes it hard to recall or retell events and stories from the past|
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