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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)

Genetics of Bipolar Disorder

02/20/2006

Question:

Can two out of three of my children have a bipolar disorder? My mother had a manic problem as well as my ex-husband, so could this be possible?

Answer:

Hello,

Thank you for your excellent question. Because bipolar disorder is highly genetic, yes it is POSSIBLE that two of three of your children COULD have bipolar disorder. However, the ONLY way to find out if someone has bipolar or any psychiatric disorder is to get a comprehensive and detailed psychological assessment from a trained mental health professional. I would suggest calling your local university, community mental health center or National Association of Mentally Ill chapter to ask for names, locations and phone numbers of mental health professional who have expertise in this area.

Keep in mind two things though:

1) "Genes do not equal destiny." Just because other family members have a disease, it doesn't mean 100% that a child will have it, it just increases the probability.

2) Even though the cause of bipolar disorder is probably biological, its course (or how it develops overtime) is influenced in positive and negative ways by environmental events (e.g., home life, school, friends, therapy, medications etc).

I hope this answer is helpful. Best wishes!

For more information:

Go to the Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents) health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nicholas   Lofthouse, PhD Nicholas Lofthouse, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University