Doing Life Together

ID-10078264Bipolar disorder has been a mental health disorder that has been difficult to understand in terms of its origins and risk factors. But now, a team of researchers who worked with the University of Michigan’s Depression Center believe they have uncovered several risk factors that may shed some light on this condition. The findings were recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by mood swings, often mania and depression. One of the most interesting findings had to do with co-morbidity (meaning something that co-occurs with bipolar). People with bipolar were more likely to also have eating disorders, metabolic syndrome, anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder. And they were three and half times more likely to experience migraine headaches. In addition, several of the studies participants had experienced childhood trauma, making trauma a risk factor.

In addition, the results of their study indicated five other potential contributing factors for bipolar disorder.

  1. There is a predisposition based on genetics for the disorder. They identified two genes in particular that may contribute to susceptibility of the disorders. However,  gene variability is still a factor.
  2. In terms of neurocognitive functioning, both cognitive and emotional activity were found to be dysregulated. Memory and fine motor skills were poorer in the bipolar subjects.
  3. In terms of diet, researchers found differences in gut bacteria making diet and lifestyle an area for possible change.
  4. We know that poor sleep quality makes mania worse. Women, not men, were more impacted by poor sleep quality when it came to severity and frequency of symptoms.
  5. The personality trait of neuroticism influenced the severity of the illness, more so for men that women. Neuroticism is a personality trait linked to a tendency to experience negative emotional states leading people to feel moody and more unstable.

Studies like this help us begin to unravel the mystery behind why some people are more susceptible to certain mental health disorders. If you or someone you know has bipolar, work with a mental health professional. Treatment makes a big difference.

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