According to newly developed research, men and women diagnosed with bipolar disorder display different chemical changes associated with the condition. The study measured the levels of zinc and neopterin in the blood when participants were experiencing either a major manic or depressive episode.
Researchers indicated two components of bipolar disorder that gave rise to this study. Women and men have different reactions to both manic and depressive episodes, during which the immune system is triggered. Furthermore, researchers already knew that the immune system operates differently for men and women.
The results confirmed that there were significant differences between men and women in regards to the immune system chemicals that were activated during a bipolar episode. Specifically, women's depression was associated with higher blood levels of zinc, while men's mania was worse if they had higher blood levels of neopterin.
Professor and chair of psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine and senior author of the new study, Dr. Erika Saunders, stated, "what we are aiming for ultimately...is to have a blood marker that we can use in the clinic that will help us predict when someone is developing a bipolar episode, and conversely when a treatment is working."