Is bipolar disorder hereditary

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

Much research indicates that bipolar disorder is a disease of the brain. It has been shown that the brain metabolism and the brain messenger substances dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin and GABA function abnormally.

Even if bipolar disorder itself cannot apparently be inherited, at least the susceptibility to such a disease is passed on from generation to generation. Stressful life events can then lead to the outbreak of the disease. Research has shown that having a child with one parent who is sick has a 10 to 20% risk. If both parents are affected, the risk for the child increases to 50 to 60%.

Imaging procedures revealed changes in the activity of the so-called limbic system in the brain of those affected during an episode of the disease. The limbic system is responsible for feeling and processing feelings. The altered activity in processing feelings explains why stressful events often precede bipolar illness.

Apparently, the time of year also plays a certain role in bipolar diseases. Statistically speaking, manic episodes occur more frequently in summer, while more depressive episodes occur in autumn. The reasons for these seasonal fluctuations are not yet known; the influence of light and the serotonin metabolism seem to play a role.