Is a Protein Deficiency Behind Bipolar Disorder?

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Woman Sitting on FloorAlthough bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people across the globe, its causes remain unknown. However, recent research may shed some light on the link between a specific protein deficiency and the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a type of mental health disorder that causes sporadic shifts in mood and energy levels. Depending on the type of bipolar disorder, these moods can periodically switch between extremely manic, or “up” and energized, and extremely depressive, or “down” and hopeless.

Some other signs of bipolar disorder include:

  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Trouble concentrating

How Is Protein Connected?

While bipolar disorder has been linked with a cellular protein called phospholipase Cγ1 (PLCγ1) in the past, research from the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea may have uncovered the reason why.

Another protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) regulates the activity of PLCγ1. Thus, when there is a PLCγ1 deficiency, there is also a BDNF deficiency. This is an important distinction because BDNF plays a key role in the formation of brain synapses, or the junctions between nerves.

When BDNF is limited, these synapses transmit an imbalance of excitatory and inhibitory messages to the brain. The result is the constant fluctuations between “up” and “down” moods that those with bipolar disorder face.

If you’re struggling with bipolar disorder, talk with an experienced mental health specialist who can offer an accurate diagnosis and recommend the best treatment options.

Treating Mental Health Disorders

These new findings may point to groundbreaking discoveries related to the treatment of bipolar disorder. Currently, this condition may be treated using mood-stabilizing medications, psychotherapy and/or even light therapy.