If one parent has been medically diagnosed with bipolar disorder

  1. What are the chances of their child having it?
  2. What are some signs to look for in childhood?

I appreciate all input. Thanks so much for your help!


asked 15 Jul '10, 13:01

misssvanes's gravatar image

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edited 27 Jul '10, 14:09

Tammy's gravatar image

Tammy ♦♦


+1 for a great question. I'll be very interested to read some answers

(15 Jul '10, 14:24) Lin

From the Mayo Clinic:

Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a blood relative (such as a sibling or parent) with the condition.

From WebMD:

Though the exact cause of bipolar disorder has yet to be found, scientists confirm that bipolar disorder has a genetic component, meaning the disorder appears to run in families.

From Wikipedia (cited):

Genetic studies have suggested many chromosomal regions and candidate genes appearing to relate to the development of bipolar disorder, but the results are not consistent and often not replicated.

In general, it appears that we know there is a genetic component to bipolar disorder, but no one seems to know to what extent genes actually cause bipolar disorder.


answered 15 Jul '10, 14:59

Matthew%20Jones's gravatar image

Matthew Jones
accept rate: 18%

I can't give scientific data but my maternal grandmother, maternal aunt, mom and I have all been treated for clinical depression.

My mom started seeing signs in me when I was a teenager and started saying things like "I wish I had never been born." I would also have very drastic, very sudden mood swings. It all went beyond the normal teenage moodiness and angst. I would start crying for no apparent reason and have trouble stopping. I think when mom looked at me, she saw the early stages of what she dealt with and wanted to head it off before it really became a problem for me.


answered 15 Jul '10, 17:42

mkcoehoorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

+1 for sharing your story

(19 Jul '10, 15:31) Lin

To speak to the symptoms in children:

WebMD says symptoms can be like ADHD. Manic/depressive phases cycle quicker, even daily.

An About.com article talks about early-onset bipolar, but also talks about symptoms.

The US Department of Health and Human Services site has a great list, it seems to be more descriptive. (Racing thoughts and speaking very fast, Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities, daredevil behavior, and/or grandiose, “super-confident” thinking and behaviors, Impulsivity and/or distractibility are a few.)

Knowing what the symptoms are will be useful if you begin to suspect that your child has bipolar disorder, but I think it would be very hard not to read normal developmental behavior as possible indicators, if bipolar ran in your family. I would suggest trying not to look too hard at these symptoms, because a lot of them sound like normal childhood phases.

For what it's worth, in my family, symptoms didn't show until college age. Until then, the only symptoms were the intense ability to focus, and deep introspection--good things, until the depression started. (Manic phases came a few years later.)


answered 15 Jul '10, 22:02

Sunday's gravatar image

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Thank you guys so much, you have been incredibly helpful!

(23 Jul '10, 18:17) misssvanes

From an alternative point of view (I am a Chiropractor), genetics definitely CAN predispose you to have some types of illnesses. That does not mean you are doomed to have something if your genes predispose you toward it. A lot has to do with environment. The following link is a 2:25 video (on YouTube) from one of the leading minds in my profession, and he explains how genetics work in simple-to-understand words. "It isn't genes, it is how they are expressed."

Dr. James Chestnut discusses genes

I hope this helps!


answered 29 Jul '10, 03:08

Lord%20Kilborn's gravatar image

Lord Kilborn
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edited 29 Jul '10, 09:34

Scott's gravatar image

Scott ♦♦

Fabulous link - thanks!

(29 Jul '10, 13:35) misssvanes
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Asked: 15 Jul '10, 13:01

Seen: 2,653 times

Last updated: 29 Jul '10, 09:34