Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Is bipolar disorder hereditary?"
My parents don't have it, but I do. I am a 25 year old female. Where did it come from?
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood. There is definitely a hereditary component, because as many of 90% of people with bipolar disorder will have a family member that has been diagnosed with either bipolar disorder or a major depressive disorder. Having bipolar disorder does not necessarily mean that your family members also have it, however.
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Probably the emergence of bipolar disorder has to do with the interaction between your unique genetic predisposition and environmental factors, such as stress and your coping strategies. Regardless of the cause, bipolar disorder is a serious medical problem which can cause significant impairment in your ability to have successful relationships, be successful in your job, etc. Therefore it is always imperative that you have good close followup with your psychiatrist. Most people with bipolar disorder will require medications to control their symptoms, although therapy sessions can also help. As bipolar disorder is a chronic, life long condition, most people with the disorder will require life long therapy to keep it under control. I suggest that you see your psychiatrist regularly, as they will be able to assess your symptoms, answer your questions, and help you decide which treatments are best for you.
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