Research in the UK covered by the BBC has found that people suffering from bipolar disorder have a progressive loss of gray matter in their brains and are at risk for losing some functioning. The authors said they could not conclude whether the loss of tissue was the cause or a consequence of the disorder:
“It may be that repeated episodes of illness harm the brain and lead to the decline,” he said.
“Another possibility is that the brain changes are caused by stress or genetic factors, which tend to lead both to more frequent illness episodes and to greater brain loss.
“No matter which way round it is, it emphasises in my mind the importance of maintaining people in remission and the importance of getting them the best treatment.”
This is a great example of some really fascinating work being done on the biology of mental illness. I think a whole new line of research could be created on motivation to change and how responsibility for behavior is attributed for people who believe that the cause of their problems is biological and uncontrollable.