Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that leads to extreme mood swings, shifting between mania, hypomania, and depression, depending on the type of bipolar. Some might describe it as the highs are too high and the lows are too low. Now scientists are claiming they have discovered a significant factor in determining your risk for bipolar disorder. According to a Science Alert article published in May 2021, a genome-wide association study, considered the largest to date, compared variants in participants’ DNA to look for genetic markers that determine the occurrence of bipolar disorder. By figuring out how genes are shared by family members, science can determine your chances of developing bipolar disorder. 


Understanding the Role of Genetics 


Research has long shown that genetics can influence whether or not you will develop a mental health disorder. Now, experts think that bipolar disorder is one of the most inheritable mental health disorders. Past studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder tend to have at least one close relative who also struggles with the disorder. If bipolar disorder was based purely on genetics, identical twins would both share the disorder. 


However, the environment can also play a vital role in an individual’s chances of developing bipolar disorder based on emotional or physical neglect or abuse, extreme stress, prolonged drug or alcohol abuse, a head injury, seasonal changes, and more. 


What Happened in the Study


The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found 64 regions in genome-containing DNA variations involved in brain cell communication and calcium levels. Those increase the risk of bipolar disorder, with 33 of those regions being new to science. Seventeen of those genes have been tied to schizophrenia, and seven are linked to major depression. The study shows that some variants can put you at an increased risk of developing different kinds of depressive conditions. The evidence can also explain the link between bipolar disorder and sleep disturbances, alcohol use, and smoking. The results also confirm that bipolar I and II are genetically based, with bipolar I being associated with schizophrenia and bipolar II related to major depression.


The Future of These Findings


Researchers hope that these new and confirmed genetic markers can help identify suitable genes that can determine accurate forms of medication. Individuals would no longer have to experiment with several medicines until they find the best one, as their genes would give mental health professionals a more precise diagnosis of which medication will help. This study can bring us one step closer to understanding bipolar disorder and better treatment options. While we may not be able to control our DNA or our environment, treatment for bipolar disorder is always in your control.


Genetics and the environment can determine whether or not a person develops bipolar disorder. The largest study to date for bipolar disorder and genetics has determined which genes can increase the chances of developing bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental health disorders. At Alta Loma, we specialize in treating several mental health disorders and have the tools you need to live a full and happy life. Located in Georgetown, Texas, we can offer you individualized therapy, medication management, a long-term continuum of care, therapeutic recreational activities, and more. Call us today at (866) 457-3843.