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The brain would cease to function in an instant if chemical messengers were somehow removed.

By providing a mechanism for allowing neurons to communicate with one another, neurotransmitters literally enable the brain to function.

There are millions and millions of individual synapses in the brain.

The neurotransmitter traffic and activity occurring inside those synapses is constant and complicated.

It is known that these chemicals are in some way unbalanced in the bipolar brain compared to normal brain.

For example, GABA is observed to be lower in the blood and spinal fluid of bipolar patients, while oxytocin-active neurons are increased in bipolar patients, but the relevancy of these findings to overall brain functioning in bipolar and normal individuals is not yet understood.

Endocrinology is the branch of medicine dealing with the endocrine system and its specific hormones.

The endocrine and nervous systems are linked by the hypothalamus (a centrally located 'switching station' within the brain).Another component of the endocrine system which is known to cause mood fluctuations when dysregulated is the reproductive system.As reproductive hormones are known to affect mood most prominently in women, the source of this effect is thought to be the ovaries which secrete estrogen and testosterone.Of particular note with regard to bipolar conditions is the fact that the hypothalamus coordinates circadian and seasonal body rhythms (See our section below on Body Rhythms for more information).The thyroid, an endocrine organ located in the neck which produces thyroid hormone, has been the focus of much mood disorder research.Similarly, reducing levels of high thyroid hormone with lithium may ease manic symptoms.Given that up to half of patients with rapid cycling form of bipolar disease also have hypothyroidism, the involvement of the thyroid gland in producing or enabling bipolar disorders for some patients is a strong possibility.Depression is frequently associated with low levels of thyroid hormone, a condition known as Hypothyroidism, while mood elevation is often associated with high levels of thyroid hormone (Hyperthyroidism).Treating hypothyroidism by supplementing or replacing thyroid hormone (in the form of Synthroid, for instance) sometimes helps alleviate depression.The receiving neuron's capture of the neurotransmitter chemicals alerts it that a message has been sent, and this neuron in turn sends a new message off to additional neurons that it is connected to, and so on down the line.Importantly, neurons cannot communicate with each other except by means of this synaptic chemical message.

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