February 22, 2005

Family Tree & Bipolar Disorder

Given the significant roll that genetics play in bipolar disorder, and the significant benefits that can accrue to people who get early treatment, it makes particular sense for families where one or more people suffer from bipolar disorder to do some genetic analsysis and family tree analysis to better understand their risks and potential preventative actions (or early treatment options).

Today there is a good article on The Guardian's web site on this issue (of tracking geneology for health reasons). The article suggests that:

"GPs are used to asking whether heart disease or cancer runs in the family but are less good at asking about mental health problems, according to Vicky Lawson, training manager for the Bipolar Organisation (previously Manic Depression Fellowship).

The issue, and why it ties into family geneology is because of the frequent misdiagnosis (and delayed treatment) around brain disorders like bipolar disorder. The story accurately points this out, saying:

"Sufferers tend to go to their GP when they are depressed and are often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants. But as someone's mood swings back into mania, antidepressants can be dangerous and may increase the risk of suicide. The cardinal pointers to a diagnosis of bipolar disease are a family history of the condition, drug and alcohol abuse, and periods of elation. "We need to push GPs to ask depressed people whether there is a family history of mental health problems or alcohol and drug abuse which people often turn to when their moods are fluctuating," says Lawson."

See the entire story at:

Source: The Guardian: Tree of Life


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