Experience w/Shellfish & Bipolar Disorder
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Q:  Experience w/Shellfish & Bipolar Disorder

allright. lets start by saying that im french so the spelling might not  be perfect. i've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 2 and a half years ago. i was sent to the hospital on a big 'downer' and they kept me there for a couple of day, sending me back home with lithium. the will to feel better was not there and i only stayed on lithium for something like 4 or 5 months. i didn't feel much effects, but i've been told that i wasen't on the medications for long enough. about a week ago, i was brough out of my room by two police men then sent to the hospital by ambulence after attempted suicide. i'm back home now and, for the first time, i accepte the whole world of science and medication to maybe do some slight changes to me. i've been doing lots of researche and i'm finding intersting links in me. first of all, im 18. i'm allergic to sea-food. anything that comes from the sea and has a shell(lobster, oysters, etc...). so i can still eat fish. my allergie is s  ensible (if i eat a food that was cooked in the same pot as sea-food, i get an allergie), but it used to be more sensible than that(smelling it would cause a reaction). the initial reaction is a scratch under my chin, then the feeling of a tennis ball in my troat, followed by a hard time breathing. i was told that an allergie to sea-food meens an allergie to iodine. i was also told by a reflexologist that my thyroid gland was damaged, possibly by the lithium i used to take. i don't remember if she  mentioned if i was hyper or hypo, but she recomended me to take 3 drops a day of natural iodine per day. i did that for about 3 months, with no noticable change in me. it didn't give me allergic reactions either. i eat alot and i'm skinny as a tooth pick, which is a symptom for hyperthyroid, but that might just be because im a teenager. i use to have asthma, which, if i remember correctly, might have something to do with thyroid damage. i have a constant pain in the back of my neck  , specialy when i'm stressed. i feel more depressed than usualy when i'm by the sea. from what i've been reading, i'm a bipolar type II with rapide-cycle(up to 5 or 6 episodes a day). these are the facts about me that i'm wondering if they're all interconnected. i'm about to go see all sorts of doctor's about all this, but i was wondering if you see any connection or any sense between my allergie to sea-food, my bipolar diagnosis and possible thyroid damage or unbalancement. i'll  try to get some tests done for my thyroid gland next week, but meen while, i just wonder what you think of all this. sorry, this is a weird question, if its a question. even i can't make any sense out of it. i usualy don't ask doctor's advices about things, but your web site  (http://www.psycheducation.org/thyroid/introduction.htm) is the first that i've found that put alot of emphasis on the link between bipolar and thyroid stuff, which is a link i was wondering if it exsited else than in my thought  s. and i liked the way you write. very friendly and inviting, specialy for a doctor ;) thank you for that article and any possible response. cheers

Monsieur V' -- 
My apologies for not being able to reply in French.  Your English is excellent and completely sufficient to explain your question, which you made quite clear: given that there is a connection between thyroid and bipolar disorder, and between iodine and thyroid, and between the ocean and iodine, could there be some connection between your experience with shellfish and your diagnosis of bipolar disorder?

Logical question.  Sorry, I'm not aware of any connections though.   Usually lithium suppresses thyroid output but does not permanently alter the gland or its function.  So if the thyroid problem really came from lithium, that should go back to normal after a period of time, perhaps several months.  However, sometimes I see patients who, after going on lithium, seem not to recover normal thyroid function.  I have always wondered whether it was lithium that did this, or their illness (these people often have a family history of thyroid problems).  

I don't know enough about shellfish allergies to know if that's really an iodine problem.   My guess is that this allergy is unrelated to the thyroid problem, which could be unrelated to lithium but quite possibly related to the bipolar disorder.  I hope that makes sense.  Unfortunately, it's not particularly useful as far as guiding treatment decisions.  Good luck with that. 

Dr. Phelps

Published July, 2005


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