StudyPeople with bipolar disorder suffer from an accelerated shrinking of their brains, BBC News Online reports researchers at the University of Edinburgh as saying.
Imaging studies carried out four years apart showed loss of brain tissue in the areas controlling memory, face recognition and co-ordination.
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The findings, published in Biological Psychiatry, back observations that people with the disorder lose brain function over time.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania and depression.
MRI scans of the brains of 20 patients with bipolar disorder and an equal number of volunteers without the condition showed everyone loses a small amount of tissue over time.
But in those with bipolar disorder, the loss of grey matter — where nerve signals are processed — was greater than in the control group.