Comorbidities common in bipolar disorder, may have genetic link

June 8, 2007

While the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be disabling on their own, most patients with the condition also are afflicted with a variety of other psychiatric, substance use and physical disorders. These comorbid conditions can complicate treatment and diagnosis.

Research findings on genetic links between bipolar disorder and other conditions and the incidence of such comorbidities will be presented at the Seventh International Conference on Bipolar Disorder.

According to Allan H. Young, LEEF Chair, Depression Research, and professor of psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, people who have bipolar disorder are at increased risk for other psychiatric syndromes including anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and problems with substance use. These psychiatric comorbidities, accompanied by medical comorbidities common in people with bipolar, including heart disease, cancer, endocrine disorders and autoimmune disorders, lead to complications, overall poor health and a decreased life expectancy.

Research presented by Willem A. Nolen, M.D., Ph.D., of the University Medical Center, University of Groningen, Netherlands, shows that genetic factors may play a role in the development of comorbidities in people with bipolar disorder. Researchers observed an increased prevalence of bipolar disorder among twins and parents and children with autoimmune thyroiditis. These findings indicate a genetic risk factor for the disease.

In Dr. Nolen’s study of people with autoimmune thyroiditis, they found that those who also had bipolar disorder had abnormalities in 21 mRNAs, which contain codes for inflammation, cell survival and cell death, among other things. If confirmed by further study, these findings could lead to new avenues for diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder and suggest that high rates of medical comorbidities can be explained by genetic factors.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Explore further: Smoking greatly reduces life expectancy for those with serious mental illness

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.