Statistically speaking, if a family member is bipolar, then you are seven times more likely to become bipolar yourself. This fact is unfortunate but true. This was never truer than during twin studies.
Scientists found that when a set of twins is born and one is bipolar, the other is twin is more likely to be bipolar than any other sibling. Therefore, if you think you might be bipolar or you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms, it is important that you contact your doctor and let them know if you think you or anyone in your family currently suffers from the disorder.
As you can see, family genes are in fact a determining factor in whether you might be bipolar. Scientifically speaking there is no single human gene that can be blamed for causing bipolar disorder; instead, there are several genetic and environmental factors that ultimately determine if a person is bipolar or not.
My father is bipolar. Does that mean I am too?
Genetics aside, bipolar disorder is largely believed to be a chemical imbalance in the brain, much like depression. Furthermore, it does not always present itself right away. It can sometimes stay at bay late into someone’s twenties or early thirties. On the opposite side of the spectrum, bipolar disorder can also present in young children, teens, adults, and older adults. It is a sneaky disorder that needs treatment to be maintained. Some symptoms you ought to look out for if someone in your family is bipolar include both depression and mania. Some symptoms you might experience during a depressive period are:
- Insatiable sex drive
- Extreme ‘highs’ followed by extreme ‘lows’
- Extreme mood changes
- Irritability and aggression
- Feeling sad and hopeless often
- Feeling empty or worthless
- Difficulty sleeping and waking up early
- Suicidal thoughts
- Lack of appetite
Symptoms of a manic period:
- Speaking rapidly
- Not wanting to sleep
- Making out of character remarks
- Being easily distracted
- Feeling self-important
- Experiencing frequent over-excitement
While bipolar disorder is often experienced due to your genetics, science has shown that your environment and lifestyle decisions also have an impact on whether you develop this disorder. If you are born with bipolar, and it does not present itself right away, there are some things you should know. Such as the occurrence of a triggering event. There are several different things that could happen to awaken the disorder. For instance, if a child is frequently yelled at or even physically abused, this can bring on manic or depressive episodes. Using an excess of drugs and alcohol later in life is another bipolar episode inducer.
Here’s the bottom line
While genetics can play a large role on whether you are bipolar or have any other mental illness, having a parent or a sibling with the disorder does not guarantee you will have it too. Simply paying attention and taking care of yourself is always the best choice to make. If someone in your family suffers from bipolar disorder, assess yourself and contact your doctor if you feel it is necessary. Bipolar disorder can be scary, but it is also manageable.