The Many Causes Of Bipolar Disorder

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In the old days, if a person showed the kinds of intense mood swings and aggressive, irrational behaviour that people with bipolar disorder show on a regular basis, that person would have been branded “possessed.” Bipolar mania can bestow a person with reckless courage. Thus, it was possible for a bipolar sufferer to win a reputation for him or herself in the old days (it was easier for males to do this, of course), and to then be respected or at least left alone. However, ostracism, permanent imprisonment, and perhaps even murder were likelier fates for people with severe bipolar disorder during the earlier days of our civilization.

These days, of course, we think differently about human behaviour. Scientists eagerly seek the medical causes of bipolar disorder. As a reward for its diligences, medical science has received many clues about the possible causes of bipolar disorder. Alas, scientists have not, as yet, hit upon the exact cause. Indeed, most experts on the matter agree that bipolar disorder most likely has a number of different causes.

The study of brain chemistry, and, specifically, of neurotransmitters, has shed some light on the mystery of bipolar disorder. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that are responsible for communication between individual cells in the brain’s vast and complicated neural network. Having too many neurotransmitters of one type, and not enough of another, can result in an imbalance in the brain’s chemistry, and, consequently, a disordering of emotions.

One neurotransmitter, in particular, may play a large role in the development of bipolar personality disorder. This neurotransmitter is a chemical known as norepinephrine. Too much norepinephrine in the brain, and the person may suffer from mania, a terrible symptom of bipolar personality disorder during which a person becomes energetic, euphoric (out of all proportion to his or her actual life circumstances), irresponsible, and irrational. Too little norepinephrine in the brain, and the person becomes depressed, lethargic, and possibly even suicidal.

Dopamine and serotonin are two more neurotransmitters that help determine a person’s level of happiness and energy. The production and activity levels of these neurotransmitter is often controlled by illegal mind-altering drugs, such as Ecstasy and crystal meth. These neurotransmitters can also play a role in the periods of mania and depression that characterize bipolar disorder.

What causes these these neurotransmitters to become so unbalanced at to result in bipolar disorder? Evidence suggests that genetics play a large role. People whose families have a history of bipolar disorder run a significantly higher risk of developing the disorder themselves. If a person’s identical twin suffers from bipolar disorder, then that person has a very high chance of developing the disorder him or herself. However, genetics are not the whole story. Environmental factors, such as long illness, drug abuse, traumatic accidents, or a difficult upbringing can bring about bipolar disorder, particular among those who are genetically predisposed to it.

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