Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cold, Flu & Depression: Does Physical Illness Cause Bipolar Blues?

Are there any others out there with bipolar disorder who get depressed during and after battling an infection, such as cold and flu. This seems to happen to me nearly every time I get an illness that makes me feel physically run down.

I have some theories about why this happens, and will look at the literature, see if there are any studies, and share what I find with you. Although there could be all kinds changes in brain biochemistry during illness that help to bring on depression, to me it seems that I get depressed because I am forced to slow down when ill. Normally, I am over-scheduled and frantic, running from one commitment to the next and complaining of being too busy. But if I ever have time on my hands, I fidget, am uncomfortable and think about the things I should or could be doing. Maybe staying on the move and too busy is a tactic that I use to keep depression at bay?

I called in sick yesterday because of a fever Tuesday night. I have been fever free for more than 24 hours, so am dragging myself back to work tonight to teach, although I still feel lethargic and depressed. Based on past experience, I'll bet you that I come home from work tonight wired, and with the depression banished. That's what teaching, or keeping busy does for me.

Please comment and share your experiences regarding physical illness and depression, or other bipolar symptoms.

Stay healthy. Stay happy.


Manic 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 depresseD

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a human mental health professional, not a computer.


  1. I also try to stay busy to beat the blues.

    I've noticed that mood changes are sometimes correlated with cold viruses... It could be a physical effect. Viruses seem to be able to make nearly every body part ache, so it's not a far stretch to think they are also messing with the brain.

    Here's a post I wrote about the connection between mental and physical ailments.

  2. I always get depressed during and after a physical illness. Mostly because I either am "up" before and get major cabin fever. I cry all the time and get emotional over EVERYTHING and get into frustrated fits. Or, I'm "down" before which brings me even further down.
    I hate being physically sick!

  3. Thank you so much for this post, I am a new bipolar blogger that has come down with a nasty virus. I truly feel that every time I get sick or run down it makes it even harder to live my "bipolar" life. I also notice my mood seems to be easily depressed and disinterested in everything. I know that right around the corner will be an upswing but it doesn't make it any easier at the moment. I can say with full confidence that being ill can seriously alter your moods and bipolar symptoms.