September 7, 2005

Course of Bipolar Disorder Inherited

New research suggests that the course of bipolar disorder may be inherited in terms of whether it was remitting or unremitting. If one has developed bipolar disorder and has a parent (with bipolar disorder) who responded well to lithium treatment and was able to completely recover from the illness, than you are likely to have the same results.

"The team assessed affective disorders in 55 children aged 10 to 25 years using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-aged Children - Present and Lifetime Version. Of these, 34 had a parent with bipolar disorder who responded to lithium treatment, while 21 had a bipolar parent who did not respond to such treatment. In all cases, the second parent was free of any psychiatric disorder" (PsychiatryMatters.MD).

The kids of those who responded well to lithium treatment often were the same kids who did not have any problems early on and usually did well in school. A large number of the children of those who had not done well with lithium ended up having an early onset of bipolar disorder and this had a detrimental affect on their academic and social functioning.

"However, while the children of nonresponders to lithium experienced significant psychiatric symptoms prior to the onset of the mood disorder, those of responders showed no significant psychiatric symptoms" (PsychiatryMatters.MD). Apparently one does not only inherit bipolar disorder genetically, they also inherit the form and course that the illness takes. This information may be well used for bipolar parents who have children stucken by bipolar disorder. They can use their history of the illness to help determine early on what will help their childrens symptoms remit.

Original Source: Clinical course of bipolar disorder inherited. PsychiatryMatters.MD.

This research study was published in J Clin Psychiatry 2002; 63: 1171–1178.


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