Interesting thing I learned in neuroimmunology today is about the activity and functions of glial cells:
Glial cells mediate immune response in the brain. Stress will alter the activity of glial cells in the brain, whether it be psychological or physical stress, and thus have an effect on immune response in the brain.
Chronic stress will cause the proliferation of glial cells, which in turn mediate the activity of cytokines— causing increased levels of production.
This I found particularly fascinating, because when such concepts are applied to trauma in the development of bipolar disorder, it could have some important implications.
Usually, environmental factors attribute to the development of bipolar disorder (many patients report childhood trauma).
So, perhaps early chronic stress effects development of brain in increasing number of glial cells that effect functioning of brain, leading to
- hypersensitivity when detecting stress in environment (aka change)
- hyper responsive to environmental stressors, explaining why individuals would become “manic” in response to detected stress
- and with mania, or any heightened state, there’s an accompanied “drop” that falls below baseline functioning (depression)
- explains why creativity is linked to the disorder. increased # of glial cells= increased production of synpasing, and connection between neurons, neuronal networks = more associations?
- increased glutamate activity (which could be a result of increased glial activity) is reported during manic states, so perhaps depression also results from excitotoxic conditions?
Hyperactivity in response to stress = increased glial response = increased glutamate activity ==> Manic symptoms.
And if condition is not properly down-regulated, increased glutamate activity eventually = excitotoxic buildup = neuronal death ==> Depressive symptoms.
Science is great…
Of course, since I’m entirely new to the subject, I could be completely off.