We often discuss some of the great perils of bipolar disorder, including over prescription of drugs, stigmas associated with the disease, and possibly the most discouraging, the difficulty of diagnosing the condition. Because determining whether an individual has bipolar disorder is largely subjective, many doctors may miss the signs or believe that the person is suffering from some other ailment. Many individuals suffer in silence without ever knowing what troubles them. In fact, some people are so impacted by bipolar disorder that they have trouble working. If they do not know that they suffer from the condition, however, they cannot file for social security disability benefits to provide relief for their inability to work. Fortunately, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine have refined a way to examine DNA to determine which individuals may be predisposed to bipolar disorder.
The team studied two different populations from large genetic studies and compared them to a small sample of fifty-six genes that they knew were associated with bipolar disorder. In their analysis, they developed a genetic risk prediction score that helps to indicate whether a person is predisposed to developing bipolar disorder. They take into account certain environmental risk factors and then couple that with this particular gene score to help aid in deciding if a person may develop the condition. Additionally, using these scores in combination with other risk factors can help with the bipolar screening process before the disorder actually manifests itself.
There is no way to tell now whether the score alone will be useful in accurately predicting bipolar disorder or even help in the diagnosing process. However, coupled with other factors, doctors may be able to take the necessary steps to intervene, such as decreasing stress, changing the diet and fitness levels, and reducing other lifestyle choices that can influence bipolar disorder. It is an exciting step in an often researched, yet unproven area.
If, through additional research, specific genes that predispose people for bipolar disorder can be identified, huge strides would have been made. For now, using this score and other lifestyle/environmental conditions can truly help people who may otherwise fall victim to the disorder. If you feel that you may be a candidate for bipolar disorder or if it runs in your family, you may want to discuss this genetic score with your doctor. It may help you to get the treatment necessary to stave off the onset of bipolar disorder.