This classification between early- and late-stage BD patients has more to do with episode recurrence and severity than the length of time the patient has had the disease. BD diagnosis may be difficult to establish and may take up to 10 years from the first episode. There is no cure for BD but psychotherapy and prescription medication such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers and benzodiazepines may alleviate symptoms.
The brain of bipolar patients shows changes such as reduction in volume and neuroprogression. The latter is a pathological version of an otherwise normal mechanism by which the brain re-writes its neuronal connections, a process that is associated to learning, memory and even recovery from brain damage. In bipolar patients, the process is associated with loss of neuron connections and clinical and neurocognitive deterioration.
“Our results indicate that the blood of BD patients is toxic to brain cells and affects the connectivity ability of neurons. Considering our previous knowledge on the association between mood episodes and blood toxicity, we believe that the more episodes a patient has, the more cellular components are produced that impair the brain’s ability to deal with environmental changes, inflammation and stress,” says Klamt.