Health and Fitness: Mental Health Article Category
Of every 100 people in the country, approximately three of them will have bipolar disorder. What is the cause of this disorder and can it be prevented?
Scientists have concluded that, without a doubt, there is a major genetic component that determines the odds of someone developing bipolar disorder. In studies involving twins, if one twin has it, the other has over 50% chance of having it as well. If a parent has it, there is a fifteen percent chance that the child will have it.
Prior to the Human Genome Project (HGP) being completed, the link between bipolar disorder and genetics was derived from observation of patients and their family. However, since then, the HGP has identified over twenty thousand genes in the human DNA. And researchers have identified at least four specific genes that contribute to bipolar illness.
Since, these genes can occur in various combinations, we are in the early stages of determining exactly how each gene contributes to the disease. But, the process of, at least, identifying them has given researchers an important jump start on figuring out their contribution.
But, aside from heredity, researchers are also learning that external factors can play a big part in how of if the person exhibits bipolar symptoms. For example, the dopamine centers in our brain determine our susceptibility to mania. This is important because dopamine is the major brain chemical associated with bipolar disease.
Well, one of the four genes related to the disease is the GRK-3 gene. As it turns out, the GRK-3 gene is extremely susceptible and sensitive to dopamine in the bloodstream. Therefore, when the person eats or drinks something that can stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, the dopamine will likely cause that person to exhibit manic symptoms of the illness. What types of foods and substances can have this effect? Things such as amphetamines, cocaine, meth, and other psycho stimulants.
At this stage in our collective knowledge, researchers have not come up with a cure for bipolar disorder. There is also no drug that will prevent someone from developing the illness. However, it is worth mentioning that just because you have one or more of the genes for bipolar disorder, does not mean that you will develop the disease. In most cases, there has to be some sort of external factor that actually turns the gene on. In addition, exciting research in gene therapy has many scientists convinced that designer drugs targeted towards these genes will eventually be able to prevent the disease from developing in those who are at risk.