Genetic and Environmental Influences that Increase the Chance of Developing of
Bipolar Disorder


Section 102

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Sara Beck

January 5th, 2017


The Genetic and Environmental Influences that Increase
the Chance of Developing of Bipolar

disorder is a serious mental illness that affects about 1.1% of the world
population (Bipolar Disorder Facts and Statistics, n.d.). This metal illness is
characterized by traits of depressive and manic episodes, low energy,
irritability, social withdrawal, changes in sleep patterns, increases in
excitatory activities, and more (Healthline Editorial Team & Kathryn
Watson, 2017). Bipolar disorder has many factors that influence the development
of this psychosis; some of the most the influential factors are genetics,
childhood trauma, and substance abuse.

disorder affects a small amount of the world population, there are many reasons
for the development of this illness; genetics are one of the most influential
biological factors of the development of bipolar disorder. It is estimated that
the genetic factors that influence this mental illness range from about 59% to
93% (Hiyoshi et al., 2017). Not only does genetics influence development but
also a family history of the illness. Children who have a parent diagnosed with
bipolar disorder have an increased risk for developing this mood disorder, more
than half of children whose parents suffer from the illness will develop a
lifetime mood disorder; this includes bipolar disorder (Schreuder et al.,
2016). The likely hood of developing this disorder is much higher for an individual
that has an immediate family member with the disorder, but the approximate risk
of bipolar disorder in distant relatives may vary. Monozygotic co-twin has a
40-70% chance of developing the disorder; first degree relative has a 5-10%
chance; and an unrelated person has about a 0.5-1.5% chance (Craddock &
Jones, 1999). It has been purposed that this connection between genetics and
the development of bipolar disorder may be a result of a certain gene (Neel
Duggal, n.d.). A gene that may be responsible for bipolar disorder has not yet
been identified, however promising findings are emerging through ongoing
research with chromosomes (Craddock & Jones, 1999). In conclusion, there
are very many factors that could contribute to bipolar disorder, but genetics can
play a significant role in the development of this illness.

factors are the most influential biological cause of bipolar disorder, but
childhood trauma has been found to be the leading environmental determinant of
this psychiatric mental illness (Kim & Lee, 2016). Both childhood stress
and trauma can produce long-term effects in brain development, neuroimaging
studies suggest that trauma in early life may lead to functional as well as
structural changes within the brain. This type of childhood maltreatment is
thought to interact with genomic traits and can alter neurodevelopment (Kim
& Lee, 2016). It has been found that the brain regions most consistently
reported to be affected by childhood trauma are also all associated with
emotional regulation; these regions consist of the corpus callosum,
hippocampus, and much more. (Kim & Lee, 2016). Recent studies have been
conducted to look at the correlation between childhood trauma and bipolar
disorder. In a case-control study conducted in 2016, 206 patients were assessed
with bipolar disorder and then compared to 94 controls using a Childhood Trauma
Questionnaire. Through this study, it was shown that multiple traumas are more
frequent in patients with bipolar disorder than in controls (Aas et al., 2016).
Not only does multiple traumas appear more frequently in bipolar patients; but
it has also been found that individuals with a history of childhood trauma tend
to have bipolar disorder manifest earlier and produce more severe symptoms than
someone who did not experience childhood trauma (Kim & Lee, 2016).
Therefore, through much research it has been found that childhood trauma is an
environmental factor that can increase the chances of an individual developing
bipolar disorder.  

trauma may be the greatest environmental influence of bipolar disorder but
there are many other influences within an environment that can increase the
development of this illness, this includes substance abuse. Both drug and
alcohol use have been associated with the impaired outcome of bipolar disorder
(Strakowski, DelBello, Fleck, & Arndt, 2000). About 60% of bipolar I and
nearly 50% of bipolar II patients have a history of substance abuse (Feinman
& Dunner, 1996). Research has reveled that many substances increase the
risk of bipolar disorder including, cocaine, cannabis, tranquilizers,
stimulants and sedatives (Marangoni, Hernandez, & Faedda,
2016) Substances, such as cocaine and other stimulants, can disrupt social and
circadian rhythms which can lead to insomnia and trigger mania. Using
substances could also accelerate the course of the illness into more treatment
resistant cycles of mood episodes (Marangoni et al., 2016). Substance abuse has
been found to have many affects that increases the influence of the development
of bipolar disorder.

are many influences that increase the development of bipolar disorder
including, genetics, childhood trauma, and substance abuse. With further
studies and education about this disorder, proper knowledge can be acquired to attain
the definitive influences that cause bipolar disorder.





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