Bipolar and Diabetes: The Unknown Connection

Bipolar and Diabetes: The Unknown Connection

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When people think about bipolar disorder, they often think about how it affects the brain. But the truth is, it can change the body as well.

Millions of people have bipolar disorder. One of its tell-tale signs is swinging between manic events and depressive events.

Manic Signs:

Depressive Signs:

  • Feeling very “up” “high”
  • Having a lot of energy
  • Being more active
  • Feeling “jumpy” or “wired”
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Talking really fast about many things
  • Feeling cross or “touchy”
  • Speeding thoughts
  • Spending a lot of money
  • Having reckless sex
  • Feeling sad, empty or hopeless
  • Having little energy
  • Decreased activity levels
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling like you can’t enjoy anything
  • Feeling worried and empty
  • Trouble focusing
  • Forgetting things
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Thinking about death or suicide
What Should You Do?

All people have mood swings. But if you feel extreme warning signs, talk with a doctor or other licensed mental health expert.

A doctor may:

  • Tell you about other care
  • Send you to another trained mental health expert, like a psychiatrist
  • Do a physical or mental health exam to see if there are other likely causes
Beyond the Brain

Certain medications for bipolar disorder can cause weight gain. So people may become overweight or obese, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

In fact, people with bipolar disorder are three times more likely to get diabetes than those without the health problem. And taking care of blood sugar levels can be hard with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder.

Beyond diabetes, being obese can have other serious health risks:

  • High blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol

Talk to your doctor if you are noticing weight gain when taking your meds. Your doctor may want to keep an eye on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar.

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Originally published 8/1/2018; Revised 2020, 2022