A new study suggests there may be an overlap between rare genetic variations linked to bipolar disorder (BD) and those implicated in schizophrenia and autism. The study, by researchers at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and published recently in JAMA Psychiatry, adds to the growing understanding that many psychiatric diseases share genetic roots, but is among the first to suggest a genetic overlap between bipolar disorder and autism. Bipolar disorder is one of the most important psychiatric illnesses because it is fairly common — affecting between 1 and 3 percent of the population — and quite debilitating. Although many patients are helped by treatments, such as lithium, about one third of people affected by BD do not do well with current therapies. Although it’s long been known that bipolar disorder is highly heritable, identifying specific genetic variants that contribute to the illness has proven difficult.
Category Archives: Bipolar Disorder
In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, hard rock band Creed was at the top of its game, selling over 40 million albums worldwide and winning a Grammy in 2001 for best rock song, “With Arms Wide Open.” But by 2014, lead singer Scott Stapp was far from the top of his game when a very public drug and bipolar-induced breakdown sent him on a downward spiral.
In December 2014, Stapp released a video claiming he was homeless and “under some kind of vicious attack.” His delusions went so far that he told his wife he was a secret CIA agent on a mission to kill President Obama.
In May 2015 Stapp and his wife, Jaclyn, came clean about what was behind his psychotic meltdown: bipolar disorder. Stapp’s mental illness had gone undiagnosed for over a decade. His doctors originally diagnosed him with depression in 1998.
“I was treated with depression without knowing that at the time I had bipolar starting to manifest,” Stapp, 42, told FoxNews.com. “Looking back, had I been properly diagnosed in ’98, I venture to say my whole life would be vastly different.”
According to a National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (DMDA)survey conducted in 2000, 69 percent of respondents with bipolar disorder were misdiagnosed. The National Institute of Mental Health describes bipolar as a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy and activity levels.
There is no single cause for bipolar disorder, but some research suggests factors like brain structure, genetics and family history may play a role.
“Mental health issues run on both sides of my family,” Stapp said. “We’re pretty certain I was innately predisposed to it and that it was going to take a hold through my DNA whenever that time was coming.”
Mental health problems are commonly associated with substance abuse. Approximately 60 percent of patients with bipolar I disorder have a lifetime diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder. In the midst of living the rock and roll lifestyle, Stapp started to depend on alcohol and marijuana to compensate his extreme moods.
“Alcohol and marijuana gave me temporary relief,” Stapp said. “The marijuana took me out of depression at times and alcohol took me out of my mania. After a long period of time of using those things to get balanced, that’s when addiction manifested. It took a number of years before it went from a self-medicating tool to full-blown alcoholism.”
A film that aims to change the way communities look at mental illness will make its debut at Yale University’s Davies Auditorium at 5 p.m. April 29. Judy Murray, an East Haven resident and founder of Dignity and Advocacy Network (D.A.N.), will be presenting at the event. She lost her son to suicide in 2014 after his long battle with what doctors diagnosed as Bipolar 1 Disorder and believes he was failed by the “medical model” mental health system. “It’s the whole approach that were using that isn’t working.” Murray said. “My son, he heard voices, he had visions, he was told that he had an illness and that he would have to ignore it, suppress it.” Murray said that while her son told her he did not think or feel he was ill, being told that he was over and over made him fall into invalidating his own experience.
Whenever I hit a depression rut, where I feel disabled by the illness and therefore pathetic for being brought to my knees by a bunch of thoughts, it helps me to review celebrities — esteemed politicians, actors, musicians, comedians, astronauts, writers, and athletes — that I admire from both the past and present who have also wrestled the demons of depression andbipolar disorder. I feel less alone knowing that this infuriating condition doesn’t discriminate, and that I’m fighting alongside some of the world’s most talented and accomplished people. Here are a few of the luminaries that have, over the course of their lives, shed some of the stigma of mental illness with their stories and who serve as inspiring role models for those of us in the trenches.
1. Ashley Judd
While visiting her sister, country singer Wynonna Judd, at a treatment center in 2006, counselors suggested that the actress and political activist check herself in, too. So Ashley Judd did just that and spent 47 days in a Texas treatment facility for depression and emotional problems. In a Today interview, she told Matt Lauer:
I was absolutely certifiably crazy, and now I get to have a solution. And for those who are codependent or suffer from depression, there is a solution.
In her memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet, Judd describes the abuse and neglect in her turbulent upbringing that led, in part, to her emotional pain and breakdown — and also the hope she feels by focusing on humanitarian work around the world.
On the surface, it might seem like there’s not too much of a difference between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Both mental health disorders can involve mood shifts and problems with impulse control — so much so that even doctors in a clinical setting can sometimes have a difficult time telling the two disorders apart when making an initial diagnosis. Though bipolar disorder involves a series of manic or depressive “mood episodes,” while borderline personality disorder is more about an ongoing pattern of behavior, the extreme ups and downs that sufferers of both disorders must deal with can make them look awfully similar from the outside. If you have questions about a loved one’s unpredictable moods — or even your own — you might have a hard time figuring out which disorder seems more applicable to your situation.
There are obvious things in life that will drag down your mental health: being in an abusive relationship, for instance, or dealing with the death of a loved one. Beyond that, however, there are factors that you may not realize play a role in keeping mental health on the up, and are letting slide in the belief that they don’t matter. News flash: they do. You need to get enough sleep, get moving, stop smoking, and stop ignoring the seriously stressful parts of your life if you want to avoid heading for a mental health crash.
The mental health disorders I’m addressing here are predominantly the ones that are most affected by environmental factors: the mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and to a lesser extent, bipolar disorder. Others do pop up, though, so it’s not just one size fits all. This isn’t about blame, either: every mental illness is a cocktail of unique factors, and you can’t in all honesty be thought to have “brought it on yourself”. But if you do want to keep your head on the smooth and narrow, there are certain activities to avoid and behaviors to stop, as they’re high-risk when it comes to mental health.
We treat depression by trying different drugs until we find one that works—a highly imprecise approach to treating the most sophisticated of organs, the brain.
Alexia had been in-and-out of intensive psychiatric therapy for nearly two decades by the time we met. She suffered from bipolar disorder, which meant that she cycled between explosions of boundless energy and black holes of suicidal despair. Despair brought her to our unit.
Her long chart chronicled how previous psychiatrists had emptied the armory: antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, group and intensive inpatient therapy, psychotherapy, dialectic and cognitive behavioral therapy. Nothing had a lasting effect
Olly Alexander opened up to The Guardian‘s Owen Jones, a noted gay columnist and political activist, about his struggle with depression and anxiety. In the article, Alexander shared experiences that likely mirror those of many gay men and LGBT individuals. From childhood bullying to a desire to be anything but gay, he uses these experiences to highlight the inadequate mental health services available.
Although he is currently in private treatment, Alexander wanted to address the stigma attached to mental illness, its discussion, and its availability. With cuts to NHS (National Health Service) under Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, Alexander wanted to lend his voice to an issue that needs attention.
Six months after my mom’s suicide, there is still a 12-pound lasagna she made in my freezer, and I can’t will myself to defrost it or throw it away. “In case you have guests,” my mother had said, hoisting the slab of meat, noodles and cheese from her refrigerator bag into my freezer. I took this to mean, you should have more friends over. Now that she’s gone, after struggling with such mental health issues as borderline personality disorder, I realize my translation was wrong. She was saying, I wish I had more friends to feed because I feel alone.
Alongside clinical depression, it is also one of the most common conditions afflicting the artists who compose the long lineage ofthe relationship between creativity and mental illness. Among them was the great poet Robert Lowell (March 1, 1917–September 12, 1977), whose 1947 Pulitzer Prize made him one of the youngest recipients of the coveted accolade. The feat was followed by one of the most severe bipolar episodes in a lifetime with the disease, which first began bedeviling young Lowell decades before Bipolar Disorder was included in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and even before its progenitor, the term manic-depressive reaction, was coined in the early 1950s. With his uncommon poetic potency and mastery of language, Lowell has provided what is perhaps the most piercing account of what it’s like to live with this tragically common and woefully disorienting mental health disease.