Fascinating blog on evolutionary psychiatry (the topic today being cholesterol and bipolar)

I noticed this blog a while back and have been fascinated with the information that Emily Deans MD provides on it. It is in keeping with what I’ve learned about how my body does best. I eat a pretty much paleo diet and have long been opposed to the wide-spread use of statins and the anti-cholesterol hype. This is just one post I’m sharing, other posts deal with other interesting topics.

Please understand that I do not embrace labeling the sorts of behavior, thoughts and feelings that get labeled with psychiatric diagnosis in general, but it’s foolhardy to not look at the sorts of clusters of phenomena in those labeled as such. That being said it should be remembered that once labeled most people are medicated and the medicated body does act differently than the drug naive body and some of these findings may be caused by the medications rather than any sort of pre-existing condition. I am not in a position at the moment to tease that sort of thing out. I imagine both things are happening. I provide this information so that you can think about it and pursue it yourselves.  We are holistic creatures and our bodies/minds and spirits are intricately entwined.

A final caveat: I don’t have to agree with someone’s whole range of choices for treatment methods of what gets called mental illness to find other observations made by them useful and/or helpful.

From Evolutionary Psychiatry:

Low cholesterol and bipolar disorder

I would say most cardiologists still believe that for cholesterol, the lower the better. In the diet, in the serum, in the liver, in the arteries. However, it is safe to say that super low cholesterol is not better in the brain. The dry weight of the brain is 60% fat and cholesterol is vital to synaptic function. Low cholesterol seems to be associated with Alzheimer’s, suicide, and violent death. The association with depression is spurious. Turns out, however, that people with bipolar disorder also seem to have lower cholesterol – and that it gets lower during mixed manic episodes (a very uncomfortable combination of mania and depression that is particularly hard to treat), and also in manic episodes (1). As the mood swings remit, the cholesterol tends to get higher. And no one really knows why that is or what it means – is it some sort of biomarker of inflammation? Does the low cholesterol itself cause the problem? And yes, bipolar disorder (and depressive disorders) are associated with metabolic syndrome, but especially in bipolar disorder, the link is much stronger to high triglycerides than high LDL or total serum cholesterol. Also interesting – depressed folks with high cholesterol are less likely to respond to antidepressants than folks with low cholesterol. (read the rest)

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