How your brain responds to bipolar disorder
Sodium is an important part of your body's make-up. Your brain cells contain sodium to help charge nerves so the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) can send messages among the nerves.
With bipolar disorder, there is too much sodium in the brain cells. The cells get excited and send messages more quickly than they usually do. As a result, the person enters the manic phase of the disorder.
When the number of neurotransmitters decreases, messages are sent more slowly, causing feelings of depression. The result is the depressive phase.
When medicine may be prescribed
Medicines can be helpful in bipolar disorder by lessening symptoms and/or changing chemicals in the brain.
The medicine most often prescribed to treat bipolar disorder is lithium. It replaces the sodium in the brain cells so the neurotransmitters send messages at a normal rate of speed. Other types of medicines that may be prescribed include anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.
Lithium is used to treat mania that is part of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness). It is also used on a daily basis to reduce the frequency and severity of manic episodes.
Learn more about litium in our health library.
How bipolar disorder medicines work
Medicines to treat bipolar disorders work by changing the way nerves receive the neurotransmitters. The nerve that receives the message is less excitable. It passes the message on at a normal rate of speed. The result is you no longer feel hyperactive.