Bipolar Disorder Manifests Differently in People Who Binge Eat

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Credit to flickr.com user Percy Germany. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

According to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study, bipolar disorder manifests differently in people who also binge eat than those who are just obese. The research is published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

The Mayo Clinic, Lindner Center of HOPE, and the University of Minnesota scientists found that just under ten percent of people with bipolar disorder binge eat, a higher percentage than the general population. Binge eaters who also suffer bipolar disorder are more likely to develop other mental health issues, including suicidal thoughts, psychosis, and substance abuse.

Contrast this to bipolar patients with obesity, who are more likely to suffer physical problems, such as diabetes and arthritis. Binge eating and obesity were both more common in women than men.

The researchers also found that when bipolar patients are suffering from a mood episode, they are more likely to binge eat. More studies are planned to pinpoint whether binge eating has a genetic link to bipolar disorder.

The Mayo Clinic team is hopeful that more personalized treatments that do not have weight gain as a side effect will become available in the future.

Author: Cassandra Stout

Freelance writer Cassandra Stout blogs weekly at the award-winning Bipolar Parent, a comprehensive resource for parents with mental illnesses. She also blogs monthly at the International Bipolar Foundation website (IPBF.org). Her work has been published in the anthology, How the Light Gets In. Cassandra holds degrees from the University of Arizona in Creative Writing and Journalism. She has been a judge for the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association literary contest for nine years, where her memoir, Committed, recently placed as a finalist. She balances her literary work with raising her children, feeding her cat, and managing her bipolar disorder.

13 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder Manifests Differently in People Who Binge Eat”

  1. p.s. I really respect The Journal of Affective Disorders & The Mayo Clinic as sources. Yesterday I discovered a site you probably know about called the Clinical Trials Gov site.

    It’s interesting to do searches on virtually anything. Here’s a sample search I did for bipolar and binge eating – too bad there’s nothing going on near me as I’d consider trying it!

    https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?cond=Binge-Eating+Disorder&term=bipolar+disorder&type=&rslt=&age_v=&gndr=&intr=&titles=&outc=&spons=&lead=&id=&cntry=&state=&city=&dist=&locn=&strd_s=&strd_e=&prcd_s=&prcd_e=&sfpd_s=&sfpd_e=&lupd_s=&lupd_e=&sort=

    1. The Mayo Clinic says, “Mood stabilizers used to treat bipolar disorder include lithium (Lithobid), valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex sodium (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, others) and lamotrigine (Lamictal). All of these medications are known to increase the risk of weight gain except lamotrigine.”

      They go on to list antidepressants and antipsychotics, saying that most of those increase the risk of weight gain, but some vary from person to person. Here’s the article, and it may be an upcoming post here:

      https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/expert-answers/bipolar-medications-and-weight-gain/faq-20058043

      Thanks for asking!

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