Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition characterized by extreme mood swings that affect mood, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform activities of daily living. It affects for months or years, in stages, where calm and normal behavior is interspersed with manic and depressive episodes. According to WHO, it affects 45 million people worldwide, being the sixth leading cause of disability in the world.

The cause is of biological and genetic origin. The limbic system is responsible for regulating emotions and maintaining a stable mood according to the circumstances. In people affected with bipolar disorder, the limbic system does not function properly, so that their mood changes abruptly for no apparent reason.

In addition, there are a number of risk factors that can help to trigger the disease:

  • Family history. Bipolar disorder has a strong genetic basis, increasing the risk significantly if there are direct relatives affected.
  • Consumption of drugs such as cannabis or cocaine.
  • Certain drugs, such as corticoids can trigger episodes in susceptible people.
  • Childbirth and postpartum. In some women they can act as triggers. In addition, women who are susceptible to or diagnosed with bipolar disorder are more prone to postpartum depression.
  • Medication withdrawal. This is the main risk factor and cause of relapse in people diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Symptoms

Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating manic episodes with depressive episodes, of variable duration. Each of the phases is characterized by different aspects, although the manifestations can be very variable from one person to another.

The manic phase is characterized by:

  • Abnormal episodes of optimism, nervousness or tension.
  • Agitation, increased activity or energy.
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Reckless behaviors and lack of self-control.
  • Distraction.

The depressive phase, in turn, may include the following symptoms:

  • Sadness or low mood.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Eating problems, poor appetite and weight loss.
  • Fatigue and tiredness.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
  • Loss of self-esteem.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much.
  • Withdrawal from friends or activities once enjoyed.

Both of these phases can cause obvious difficulties in carrying out daily activities such as work, school, social activities or relationships.

Prevention

There is no effective way to prevent bipolar disorder. However, early treatment can help prevent the disorder from worsening and can lead to a good quality of life.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or have a first-degree relative who is affected, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Pay attention to the warning signs. Treating symptoms early can help minimize their effects.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.
  • Have a good sleep hygiene.
  • Take medication correctly. Abandoning treatment or reducing the dose may help trigger new episodes.

Number of observed variants

13.5 million variants

Number of risk loci

63 loci

Genes analyzed

ACTN3 ADCY2 ADO ADRM1 ANK3 BCL11B BTN2A1 C15orf40 C16orf72 CACNA1B CACNA1C CACNB2 CD47 CERS6 CUL4A DCLK3 DOCK2 DUSP26 FADS1 FES FKBP2 GRIN2A GSDME HDAC5 HOMER1 KCNB1 KCNS1 KDM3B KIAA1109 LMAN2L MAD1L1 MATN4 MDFIC2 MED24 MRPS33 MSRA NFIA NT5DC2 PACS1 PLEC PLXNA4 POU3F2 PRSS55 PSMD3 RAMACL RASGRP1 RGS5 RPL13 RTN4RL1 SCN2A SHANK2 SLC25A17 SP4 SRPK2 SSBP2 STARD9 SYNE1 TENM4 THSD7A TMEFF2 TRPT1 XPNPEP1 ZSCAN2

Bibliography

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