Your Ultimate Guide to Genetics and Bipolar Disorder

One person shared their story of living with bipolar disorder on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) main website. Here is an excerpt from their story: “I got home and couldn’t sleep or sit still at all. The anxiety multiplied. I couldn’t even sit and watch TV…For most of the time, I was in isolation. I wasn’t sleeping at all.”

Bipolar disorder (BPD) is a manic-depressive illness that may involve unusual shifts in energy, motivation, activity levels, and more. There are several types of BPD, each characterized based on one’s symptoms, severity, and length of time experienced. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with BPD, understanding the causes of this disorder can provide added insight.

Genetics have long been part of the discussion when to mental illnesses. For BPD in particular, research has shown that if you have first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) with this disorder, this is the greatest chance that you could develop it, too. A 2014 research piece published in the journal Applied Clinical Genetics emphasized an exciting finding from the research community, with common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) being widely associated with BPD in particular. However, scientists are still exploring, and there is much of genetics and BPD that remains unclear.

Many times, people with BPD have family members with other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, depression, and more. The U.S. National Library of Medicine claims that some families experience higher rates of BPD than others, and the reasons for this are currently unknown. All in all, it is estimated that approximately 2.8% of the U.S. population has this disorder, meaning that you are not alone!

If you’ve been diagnosed with BPD but have not yet sought treatment, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today. For many people, BPD can significantly affect various aspects of daily living, including work, home, and social life. Treatment for BPD may include medication, psychotherapy (both individual and group), holistic activities such as meditation and acupuncture, and more.

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