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Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by alternating states of depression and mania that follow each other in a repeating cycle.
People with bipolar disorder may cycle through these states quickly or may experience long periods of depression or mania. Often one mood state predominates, while the other occurs only infrequently or briefly. The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown.
Symptoms of the elevated mood stage of bipolar disorder include an exaggerated sense of confidence and well-being, racing thoughts, excessive talking, distractibility, increased desire for pleasurable activity, decreased need for sleep, impulsivity, irritability, and impairment in judgment. The depressed phase includes symptoms of sadness, fatigue, pessimism, feelings of helplessness, low self-esteem, and loss of interest in life, possibly with thoughts of suicide.
Exercise influences the production and use of neurotransmitters and hormones in the body, and its antidepressant effect is well known.1 A preliminary study of the effects of vigorous exercise on the body chemistry of patients with bipolar disorder found that exercise increased a specific chemical associated with better mood.2 However, exercise may adversely influence the effectiveness of some medications used for bipolar disorder. Many people with bipolar disorder take lithium, and because lithium is lost in sweat, exercise that involves significant sweating may change blood levels of lithium. Such a change has been reported in one person;3 therefore, people taking lithium who intend to start a vigorous exercise program should be monitored by their doctor.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2017.