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Can You Be Bipolar With Dementia?

Can You Be Bipolar With Dementia
You can have bipolar disorder with dementia. Learn about how mood disorders can affect cognitive function

Studies have shown that people who have bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of dementia. Because bipolar disorders are bound to alter brain structure and chemistry over time, there may be gradual damage to brain cells that can lead to symptoms of dementia such as memory loss and poor concentration.

What is the connection between bipolar disorder and dementia?

Changes that people with bipolar disorder undergo through different phases that can lead to dementia include:

  • Changes in attention span and focus
  • Racing thoughts during a manic phase
  • Anxiety and panic episodes
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Psychosis, including delusions and hallucinations

Because people with bipolar disorder experience different moods, there is a high likelihood that they may have memory impairment in between these mood swings. Many studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder have complained of memory loss during high moods, low moods, and in between. The more intense the mood, the higher the likelihood of memory loss.

What can cause people with bipolar disorder to develop dementia?

According to researchers, people with bipolar disorder may have some changes in their brain anatomy. Parts of the brain that undergo drastic changes in a person with bipolar disorder and their function in a healthy person are as follows:

Part of the brain Function

Prefrontal cortex
Plays a role in planning, attention, problem-solving, and memory

Stores memories

Anterior cingulate cortex
Emotional and cognitive functions

Other factors that can worsen dementia in people with bipolar disorder include:

In some cases, treatment for bipolar disorder can have adverse effects, including memory loss. For example, bipolar disorder treatments that may cause dementia include:

What types of memories are affected with bipolar disorder?

Table: Types of memories affected by bipolar disorder Types of memory Function Effects of bipolar disorder

Working memory
Stores information temporarily until a mental task is performed
Changes in working memory can make it hard to function at work or study

Verbal learning and memory
Enables you to remember the words you see or hear
Makes it hard to recall or retell events and stories from the past

Executive functioning
Plays a role in planning and prioritizing tasks
Affects the ability to plan and perform tasks

Declarative memory
Involved in recalling and explaining past events
Makes it hard to recall or retell events and stories from the past

Spatial working memory
Helps with recalling shapes, colors, locations, and movements
Makes it hard to recall or retell events and stories from the past


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