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It's like a fire, in ways. Hence kindling.

A certain amount of heat is required to light your kindling on fire. If you don't have enough heat, nothing gets lit, or your kindling might just get a little scorched. If enough kindling lights, though, a good fire is the result.

Like that, a certain amount of excitation is required for a neuron (nerve cell) to fire. And a certain amount of these cells will have to fire in the vicinity in order to 'kindle' properly. This may result in an out of control excitation condition across millions of neurons around the original kindling, just like lighting woodchip kindling can start a nice campfire.

Though, this campfire is generally a seizure, and has been also implicated in mania.

we didn't start the fire,

it was always burning since the world's been turning,

--herrfous

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Maybe I understood this wrong.. I heard that the more you are manic, the worse the mania gets as you age. And there is no evidence (yet) that AEDs make this better or worse?

Oh, THAT kind of kindling.

I thought you meant neural network kindling.

But I'm a huge nerd that way.

My advice is to listen to what AirMarshall said. ;)

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Simple version: it usually takes some kind of trigger to set you off into an episode. The first time it happens, it usually takes quite a trigger. Because you have already had an episode, your brain becomes slightly sensitized, so next time, it needs slightly less to trigger it. This effect builds up over time, assuming you are not being treated. Since triggering events are all around us, the more sensitized you get, the more likely it is that everyday shit will trigger an episode.

So, untreated, over time you will cycle more and more rapidly as you get easier to trigger.

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