Brain Imaging Techniques Helpful in Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder, Says Study

Diagnosing a mental disorder often becomes challenging for physicians due to various complexities involved in the process. While numerous mental disorders share similar symptoms, many others do not exhibit any symptoms at all, until they reach an advanced stage. As a result, many people fall prey to misdiagnosis for a condition that could be easily treated with early diagnosis and monitoring. Today, scientists are working toward developing better tools for a proper screening of individuals who are vulnerable to various mental health conditions.

When it comes to misdiagnosis, bipolar disorder (BD) tops the list of mental disorders. The mental health condition is often confused with either depression or schizophrenia, largely due to overlapping symptoms. In the current scenario, bipolarity is generally detected based on the signs and symptoms experienced by the patient. However, a December 2016 study, published in journal Molecular Psychiatry, came up with brain-imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can help in the correct diagnosis of BD.

According to the study, titled, “Structural dysconnectivity of key cognitive and emotional hubs in young people at high genetic risk for BD,” such brain imaging techniques are capable of identifying the difference between bipolar and healthy individuals, thereby enabling doctors to recognize the affected individual. The researchers also claimed that the patients suffering from bipolarity have weaker connections in the important emotional regions of the brain.

Diagnosing bipolarity with brain imaging technique

Mental disorders are always associated with disruptions or alterations in the chemistry of brain. Disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often linked with unusual connections in different parts of the brain. However, as per the current study, “Even subtle perturbations to brain networks can cause disturbances in cognitive and emotional processes, particularly if they target highly connected hubs in executive, emotional and association regions.”

At times, it might get increasingly difficult for doctors to segregate the symptoms of BD and schizophrenia, in case the former is accompanied by delusions or hallucinations, apart from other symptoms. However, by using imaging technique, a doctor can easily detect various changes in the brain’s structure, which in turn can help in the correct diagnosis of BD. It might also help individuals who are at a higher risk of developing bipolarity, and also helps reduce its impact in case it is diagnosed.

As per the researchers, an improper diagnosis of bipolar results in a significant delay in treatment, which often leads to fatal consequences, such as suicide. Thus, it is important to correctly diagnose people struggling with devastating symptoms of BD, to help them receive the right treatment, said the researchers.

“These discoveries may open the door to starting people on medication before the illness, to reduce the risk of manic episodes before the first one occurs,” said Michael Breakspear, from QIMR Berghofer.

Recovery road map

Sovereign Health believes that mental illness, addiction and cognitive deficits are brain diseases that constrain people’s lives, but they do not define them. At Sovereign, we screen all individuals upon admission with a view to develop personalized plans for them. A combination program with medications, including antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, and psychotherapy treatments is the best way to treat BD.

If a loved one in the family is exhibiting signs of bipolarity or any other mental disorder, you can contact Sovereign Mental Health Services. Our facility is counted among the top bipolar disorder treatment centers in Los Angeles. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866–973–7164 for expert advice on the treatment for bipolar disorder in Los Angeles.

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