Mind Matters

Will the Genetic and Imaging Techniques Help in Diagnosing the Bipolar Disorder ?

Genetics of Bipolar Disorder

The fact that a particular gene is behind the bipolar disorder is not yet established fully. It is not genes alone which cause bipolar disorder. It is a combination of genes and the environment in the womb of the mother at the time of the birth of the child that results in the bipolar disorder. The studies in genetically similar identical twins are not encouraging though. A twin with the affected twin need not necessarily get affected by bipolar disorder. The hope lies in advancing genetic technology tools. With more sophistication they may yield better results.

Through methods such as Bipolar Disorder Phenome Database, funded in part by National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) scientific community is trying to establish the link between the disease symptoms and the responsible genes. According to this data most people with bipolar disorder had:

  • to miss work because of their sickness
  • coexisting medical conditions such as alcoholic/substance abuse , panic disorders
  • been hospitalized because of bipolar disorder
  • been treated for this disease

The data base developed by NIHM researchers also revels that the following traits run in the family:

  • Almost similar age onset of first manic symptoms
  • Almost similar number of manic episodes
  • Obsessive Compulsive disorder occurring along with bipolar disorder

Can the Results of Brain Imaging be Combined with Genetic Details for Better Results ?

Yes, surely. In fact many clinicians do that. Modern imaging techniques such as Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) are coming to the rescue of doctors in this regard. In fact imaging studies reveal that a schizophrenia related disorder called “multi-dimensional impairment” is similar to bipolar disorders in terms of changes that occur in the brain.

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