Thursday, September 30, 2010

What Causes Bipolar?

This will be lengthy but worth spending a few minutes reading. I am tired a little down tonight and it has been a long day so please overlook any mistakes I made typing.

My friends, for a long time now I have been going to website after website, and depending which one you click on you will find different answers. I have mentioned many times bipolar is not something that is completely understood. The mind is so powerful, yet so complex, they have always and will after my lifetime continue to research and and to try to find answers. I was joking the other day that humans can design almost anything you can imagine, but a human mind cannot figure out a human mind. 

I want to start answer many of your questions, but I want to make a point here: You need to come to the realization that it is serious and it will continue to be a mystery to those in the scientific field as they continue to all try to come up with the exact answer as to what causes bipolar, and what is the exact treatment. This is critical if you, a friend, or love one has bipolar and why symptoms and treatment varies from patient to patient. No two people with bipolar will have the same symptoms and I assure you, no two people will be treated the same. It is impossible!

To emphasis on my point, this is an article from that I really think you should read. Pay attention to how many times the word "theories" and "studies suggests" comes up.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Basics
From Kimberly Read
Updated April 12, 2010 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board
~~~We have all asked this question at some time. I've heard explanations ranging from a shortage of lithium in the brain to dog bites in childhood. Obviously, there is a great deal of misinformation to be had.

To add to the confusion, scientific research continues to publish new information and theories. A 2000 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry reported "in those with bipolar disorder, two major areas of the brain contain 30 percent more cells that send signals to other brain cells." This report theorizes that "the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of over stimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder(1)."

But has anyone found the true cause of bipolar disorder? It would be wonderful to say that X or Y was the cause, but the answer is not that simple. Most scientists believe that mental illnesses are caused by a combination of several factors working together. In bipolar disorder, these factors are usually divided into biological and psychological causes. In plain English, the main reasons mental illness develops are physical (biological) and environmental.

Genetic Factors
When talking about biological causes, the first issue is whether bipolar disorder can be inherited. This question has been researched through multiple family, adoption and twin studies. In families of persons with bipolar disorder, first-degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) are more likely to have a mood disorder than the relatives of those who do not have bipolar disorder(3). Studies of twins indicate that if one twin has a mood disorder, an identical twin is about three times more likely than a fraternal twin to have a mood disorder as well(2).
In bipolar disorder specifically, the concordance rate (when both twins have the disorder) is 80 percent for identical twins, as compared to only 16 percent for fraternal twins(2). (Identical twins occur when one fertilized egg splits in two, so they share the same genetic material; fraternal twins come from separate fertilized eggs, so the mixtures of genetic material are different.) There is overwhelming evidence that bipolar disorder can be inherited and that there is a genetic vulnerability to developing the illness(2).

However, exactly what is inherited? The neurotransmitter system has received a great deal of attention as a possible cause of bipolar disorder. Researchers have known for decades that a link exists between neurotransmitters and mood disorders, because drugs which alter these transmitters also relieve mood disorders(4).
·        Some studies suggest that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause.
·        Other studies indicate that an imbalance of these substances is the problem, i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters(2).
·        Still other studies have found evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the issue(4).
In short, researchers are quite certain that the neurotransmitter system is at least part of the cause of bipolar disorder, but further research is still needed to define its exact role.

Stress Triggers
For mental, emotional and environmental issues, stressful life events are thought to be the main element in the development of bipolar disorder. These can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job, from the birth of a child to a move. It can be pretty much anything, but it cannot be precisely defined, since one person's stress may be another person's piece of cake.
With that in mind, research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. However, once the disorder is triggered and progresses, "it seems to develop a life of its own." Once the cycle begins, psychological and/or biological processes take over and keep the illness active(2).

Putting it all together
When we look for the cause of bipolar disorder, the best explanation according to the research available at this time is what is termed the "Diathesis-Stress Model." The word diathesis means, in simplified terms, a physical condition that make a person more than usually susceptible to certain diseases. Thus the Diathesis-Stress Model says that each person inherits certain physical vulnerabilities to problems that may or may not appear depending on what stresses occur in his or her life(4). Durand and Barlow define this model as a theory "that both an inherited tendency and specific stressful conditions are required to produce a disorder(2)."
So the bottom line, according to today's thinking, is that if you are manic depressive, you were born with the possibility of developing this disorder, and something in your life set it off. But scientists could refine that theory tomorrow. The one sure thing is, they won't give up looking for answers.~~~~~~
I have over 45 topics that I will cover but like I said this is where we should really start. This is why it is CRITICAL you seek help as soon as you even 'think' you have systems of Bipolar. As long as I have been under treatment, we (My Doctor and I) STILL have to have our regular visits to monitor my problems or success. Once we think we have it on tract, something will change. I believe this is the nature of the beast.
 CAUTION! If you were to read every thing there is on the subject from all the websites available, you would get more confused and depressed more than ever. My suggestion is that you go to a professional right away and let them come up with a program that fits your symptoms and the type of bipolar you are suffering with.
Your Friend.

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