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Bipolar Disorder


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Bipolar Disorder





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 Cause of Bipolar




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Bipolar Disorder






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 Cause of bipolar disorder: Biological and Hereditary Aspects

bipolar disorder and childrenIt has also been hypothesized that the cause of bipolar disorder may be related to either ion activity or hereditary components. 

Ion activity as a possible cause of bipolar disorder: 

On both sides of the cell membrane of neurons are positively charged sodium ions.  It is hypothesized that they may be a cause of bipolar disorder in that they send incoming messages down and around to the nerve endings.  It is believed that when the neuron is at rest, most of the sodium ions sit on the outside of the membrane.  When an incoming message stimulates the neuron at its receptors site, the sodium ions on the outside of the membrane travel across to the inside.  This may start a wave of electrochemical activity that continues down the length of the neuron resulting in a "firing".  A flow of potassium ions from the inside to the outside will then help it to return to its original resting state.  


Ions must travel properly back-and-forth between the outside and inside of the neural membrane in order for brain messages to be sent and received properly.  Some theorists believe that the improper transportation of the ions may cause neurons to fire much too easily (resulting in mania) or to resist firing too much (resulting depression).  These problems of transportation of the ions will produce shifting misalignments along neural membranes and consequent fluctuations of mood from one extreme to the other. In support of this theory of ions as a potential cause of bipolar disorder,  investigators have found membrane defects in the neurons of persons with bipolar disorders and have observed abnormal functioning in the proteins that help with this transportation system across the membranes of the neuron. 

Genetic factors as the cause of bipolar disorder: 

There are many experts that believe the cause of bipolar disorder is related to biological predisposition.  Findings from family pedigree studies have provided some support for this idea.  It has been found that identical twins of persons with bipolar disorder have a 40% likelihood of also developing this disorder and fraternal twins, siblings and other close relatives of such persons have a 5% to 10% likelihood, compared with the usual 1% prevalence rate in the general population. 

Researchers into the cause of bipolar disorder have also conducted genetic linkage studies in order to identify possible patterns related to the inheritance of this disorder.  These studies usually select large families that have high rates of disorder over several generations and observe the distribution patterns of disorder among family members, and try to figure out whether it closely follows the distribution pattern of a known genetically transmitted family trait (called a genetic marker ) such as red hair, color blindness or a particular medical condition. 

Researchers into the cause of bipolar disorder have studied the records of Belgium, Israeli and Italian families that have high rates of bipolar disorder across several generations.  One team of researchers have seemed to link bipolar disorder to genes on the X-chromosome.  Other research teams however, later using techniques from molecular biology to examine genetic patterns of large families, stated that they link bipolar disorder to genes on chromosome's 4, 6, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18 and 22.  Such diversity of results may mean that the logic behind the various gene studies is flawed.  Alternatively, other researchers have concluded that the cause of bipolar disorders may be related to genetic abnormalities that combine to bring about this condition.

Information from Abnormal Psychology Fourth Edition by Ronald Comer

Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate (Health Psychology

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