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Bipolar Disorder (Children and Adolescents)

Two Disorders in A Relationship and Its Effect on Future Children

04/02/2007

Question:

I want to try and have a baby with my bipolar partner if I can - I`m 45. I`ve read about the possibility of his illness being passed on but I don`t know if my depression is going to make this worse. I`ve had two short periods of depression - following being dumped by a big love - one required medication, the other probably required it too but I didn`t know to ask. I only took the seroxat for three months and was fine afterwards. I have not had a recurrence and am fine otherwise. He was diagnosed around the age of 12 but does not require medication. Please advise. Thank you.

Answer:

Thank you for your e-mail and excellent question. Yes, bipolar disorder can be inherited, however, always keep in mind the following 4 things:
    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 if and how it develops overtime) is influenced in positive and negative ways by environmental events (e.g., home life, school, friends, therapy, medications etc).
    3. There are some very effective treatments available to help people manage their bipolar symptoms.
    4. Even if families do "pass-on" their bipolar genes: a) Bipolar disorder is frequently associated with a range of incredible abilities (e.g., intelligence, creativity) and b) family members will also "pass-on" on a host of other important genetic traits.

I hope my answers are helpful.

All best wishes,

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Response by:

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