Can Uncontrolled Mood Symptoms Cause Physical Illnesses to Increase?
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Q:  Can Uncontrolled Mood Symptoms Cause Physical Illnesses to Increase?

I am  60-yr. old female, recently diagnosed as bipolar, although I have had depressive symptoms for years, and about 10 yrs. ago was finally given meds (paxil, then lithium) to treat the depression.  I have been physically ill for more than 10 yrs., not feeling good physically, getting 4-5 infections a year, skin fungus, inflammations, etc. and generally not feeling ok.  I was just told that not treating bipolar symptoms correctly (I now take effexor, depakote, and apraxolam) can, over time, cause physical illnesses to increase, which is why I'm sick so much of the time.  Could you please respond to this?  I'd appreciate it so much.   

Thank you,


Dear Sandra --

Can having uncontrolled mood symptoms make a person more susceptible to physical illnesses?  I just had a look around the National Library of Medicine website, Pub Med, searching "bipolar viral" and "mood infection" and a couple of other combinations.  This is definitely not an official literature search, but I confirmed my suspicion that your question is so large in scope, it is hard to answer with good data. 

Of course, many people believe that the answer to your question is "yes".  But to my knowledge, this has not been directly examined, at least not recently.  I'll bet there are some much older studies comparing rates of physical illness in people with and without mood disorders.  I did not find them in my brief search. 

I suppose one could conclude by saying "get those mood symptoms under control, and then see how you're doing".  Surely that is your goal.  Good luck with that.

Dr. Phelps

Published August, 2008


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