Q: Cyclothymia, Eating Disorder, Mercury Poisoning

Dr. Phelps, you are a gifted and generous person to give your input..Thank
you.  To add another set of questions to the batch:  I was diagnosed with
bipolar II one year ago.  After 7 months of med trials with no relief I quit
trying.  I had to go into treatment for an eating disorder that got really
out of hand during the stress of going on and off of meds.  While in
treatment was diagnosed with Mercury toxicity.  I have been detoxing from
mercury and working very hard behaviorally and with counselors but I
continue to be very suicidal, confused, high anxiety, racing thoughts,
eating disorder etc.  I want to trust that meds can help me but I feel like
a huge failure in all of this for still having such difficulties.  Do you
know of any connection between mercury toxicity, eating disorders and
cyclothimia?  I would also like to find more information on mixed
state/rapid cycling as most of what I read is a depiction of "pure" manic
and depressive states.  It would help me decifer if I should re-try the
bi-polar meds.   Thank you very much

Dear Kelly -- 
Bipolar variations like cyclothymia and eating disorders -- yes, there's some sort of connection; I see the two together quite frequently.  As for the mercury, I'm not aware of any connection. Here's the only thing that turned up on a quick search of "mercury and bipolar": 

Lancet 1983 Dec 24-31;2(8365-66):1479-80

Isaac Newton: mercury poisoning or manic depression?

Lieb J, Hershman D.

Interesting, no?  

As far as re-trying bipolar med's, I'd figure that even if you have mercury poisoning as the basis for your "bipolar" symptoms -- as is being suggested should be wondered about for old Isaac --  there might be a chance that the medications we use for bipolar disorder would still help: sometimes I wonder if we ought to just drop the labels and say that "mood stabilizers" are good (in some people) for sleep problems, irritability problems, anxiety problems, concentration problems, and recurrent episodes of depression.  i.e. and forget about all the diagnostic fuss as to whether a person is "bipolar" or not, which leads people astray sometimes, I think.  

Dr. Phelps

Published May, 2001