The brains of adolescents diagnosed with bipolar disorder develop differently than the brains of teens without the disorder, according to a study in Biological Psychiatry. Though not mentioned in the abstract or press release, a table in the study showed that most of the teens suffering brain volume loss were taking one or more psychotropic medications.
Investigators from the Yale School of Medicine did brain scans over two years of 35 teens diagnosed with bipolar disorder and 37 without the disorder. In the brains of teens with bipolar, they found “larger-than-expected volume loss in a region that included the insula and the orbitofrontal, rostral, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, including greater gray matter contraction and decreased white matter expansion over time,” reported Medscape Medical News.
The findings provided supportive evidence of “neurodevelopmental abnormalities” in teens with bipolar disorder, concluded the researchers.
Near the end of their paper, the researchers noted that, “The majority of subjects were taking psychotropic medications.”
Other studies have linked brain volume loss to use of some common psychotropics. In this study, the researchers commented that, “Subjects reported varying medication combinations, and medications were not studied systematically. Studying medication load would be ideal; however, reliability of reports of specific medications taken and amounts were not clear.”
Najt, Pablo, Fei Wang, Linda Spencer, Jennifer A. Y. Johnston, Elizabeth T. Cox Lippard, Brian P. Pittman, Cheryl Lacadie, Lawrence H. Staib, Xenophon Papademetris, and Hilary P. Blumberg. “Anterior Cortical Development During Adolescence in Bipolar Disorder.” Biological Psychiatry. Accessed June 3, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.03.026. (Abstract)
Bipolar Disorder Linked to Altered Brain Development (Medscape Medical News, June 1, 2015)
The adolescent brain develops differently in bipolar disorder (Yale News, May 29, 2015)