Is Bipolar a Dominant or Recessive Gene?



This was possibly the most difficult question I have ever answered. Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional in any way. While many people in my family are doctors, I am not. I could go into a lot of medical jargon and spit out more of the same thing the web offers but I don’t believe that would do any good. Instead I will simply offer the best answer to this question I could find in a language we can all understand.

This question is actually one that many scientists and medical professionals are currently unable to answer but they continue to search. While it is quite clear that there is a genetic relation to the bipolar illness it is unclear what genetic factors are responsible.

For example: A few of the authors on have children with the illness. My father had the illness. It seems that when one parent has the illness children have a higher risk of also becoming ill.

There are exceptions to this blanket approach though. There have been studies of identical twins who do not share the bipolar illness. There is a strong possibility however that the second twin may develop the illness, an 80% chance. Many doctors believe that our genetics are not the only factors that create a bipolar individual and that our environment may play a part. Some believe that although a person my have genetic markers, which have yet to be determined, environmental experiences can trigger our brains to tap into the bipolar disposition. If environment does play an important part in the illness than it would make sense why two identical twins could possibly have such different lives.

For years doctors have believed that brain chemicals called dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine contribute to the bipolar illness. They hypothesize that there is a difference specific to theses chemicals in the brain of an individual who has bipolar but they have never been able to prove this theory.

Some studies have placed their focus on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is thought to control higher reasoning. Those studies have shown that the disturbance in the neurotransmitters may contribute to the illness. More studies will have to be done in order to come to a greater understanding of the details.

The brain is such a mystery to all doctors and scientists. I’m not sure if we will ever come to a full understanding of what the brain is doing and why. Our genes may hold most of the answers and researchers, although they know more than ever, are not able to find the exact reason we have this illness.

One day doctors hope to pin down the genetic markers which are present in all bipolar individuals. When that day comes perhaps no one will be misdiagnosed. It will be easier to treat the children who currently suffer in silence while much of the world still believes that the illness only shows up later in life. When genetic markers are found then all individual would have the knowledge on if they are at risk to develop the illness or pass it down to their children.

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