There has been a lot of discussions lately on the genetic inheritance to bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder had been initially thought that it was caused by bad parenting! In a more recent past, cohort studies have demonstrated that there was a link between parents having bipolar disorder and their offsprings. However, it is not until recently with the advent of the Human Genome Project that genetic inheritance has been identified as a potential cause of bipolar disorder. Here is some of the results of a study carried out by the International Mental Health Research Organisation :
What these studies indicate is that a predisposition to bipolar disorder is clearly inherited whether a person becomes ill depends on other factors. Is this predisposition specific for bipolar disorder, or is it a predisposition for mental illness in general? It is unusual to find schizophrenia in the biological parents of bipolar patients, suggesting that these are two separate diseases. However, the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder has features of both diseases, and this diagnosis is made occasionally in the relatives of those who have either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, indicating that there is some overlap between the two conditions.
On a more personal note, I decided to share with you my own genetic background that I believed predisposed my to my condition. Mental illness runs deep in my family especially on my dad’s side.
First, my grand parents! My grandmother on my dad’s side was with hindsight bipolar. She just like me and many of us had a stronger struggle with depression than mania of the disorder. So much so, that she committed suicide in the family home. My grandfather, again on my dad’s side was also bipolar. He displayed all the good and bad signs of the disorder and was self medicating with alcohol which killed him in the end.
Together they had eight children. I can safely say that on the eight of them at least six display signs of bipolar disorder and other mental illness such as obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. My dad for one is also bipolar.
My dad has never been medicated and has never seek consult for his disorder. On one hand, I am very impressed by him still making it through the days without and medical help but on the other hand it makes it very hard for me to deal with on a daily basis as we work together.
A couple of years ago, after a terrible depressive episode caused mainly by environmental factors, my dad tried to commit suicide. I was the one who found him and convinced him otherwise. Thus, adding to my environmental and psychological predisposition to fall in the hands of the dark creature.
As much as I love my dad and enjoy working with him, I can say that it sometimes is a bit of a burden for me.
On my mother’s side, it’s mainly depression. I, however, suspect my grandfather on that side to also have been a bipolar sufferer. My mother seemed to only have inherited the depression side of things but this doesn’t really help when it comes to my condition.
So was I doomed? I think so. But now that I am in a better place I can also see what good has come out of my disorder. (which will be my next post )