One path to bipolar starts with binge eating


A new study from the Mayo Clinic shows that bipolar disorder evolves differently in patients who also binge eat.

Many bipolar patients are obese or binge eat, but the mood disorder appears to take a different path in those who binge eat than in those with obesity.

Binging higher with bipolar patients than in general population

As many as 4 percent of Americans have some form of bipolar illness. Of those, 10 percent have binge eating disorder. This rate is higher than that of the general population. With the latest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), binge eating is now listed as a separate and distinct mental disorder.

Bipolar patients who binge eat are more likely to have suicidal thoughts, psychosis, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. On the other hand, obese patients with bipolar are more likely to have serious physical problems such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Mindful of treatment side effects

“The illness is more complicated, and then by definition how you would conceptualize how best to individualize treatment is more complicated,” said Mark Frye, MD, a psychiatrist and chair of the Department of Psychiatry/Psychology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “It really underscores the importance of trying to stabilize mood, because we know when people are symptomatic of their bipolar illness their binge frequency is likely to increase. We want to work with treatments that can be helpful but not have weight gain as a significant side effect.”

A more severe variety of bipolar disorder

“Patients with bipolar disorder and binge eating disorder appear to represent a more severely ill population of bipolar patients,” explained co-author Susan McElroy, MD, chief research officer at the Lindner Center of HOPE. “Identification of the subgroup of patients will help determine the underlying cause of bipolar disorder and lead to more effective and personalized treatments.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Affective Disorders


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