Research and analyze the biological, cognitive, and/or sociocultural etiologies.
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Bipolar disorder is a genetically influenced condition which responds very well to medication. There have been a number of studies that have been conducted to suggest so otherwise. Most of these studies state that genes play a crucial role in determining whether an individual has bipolar. Up to 80% of instances where bipolar disorders are diagnosed results from the genetic makeup of the individual. For twins however, the figures vary from identical twins to fraternal twins. Identical twins have a higher concordance rate at 69%, whilst fraternal twins stand at 19%. Individuals with a family member who is diagnosed with this disorder are at a much higher risk of getting this disease, although there is still insufficient evidence as to what is being inherited in terms of which particular genes. One suggestion that experts have come up to as what is inherited genetically is the neurotransmitter system as a possible cause of bipolar disorder. Some studies have suggested that a low or high level amount of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, nonrepinephrine, or dopamine could be a cause. There have been indications to prove that a possible imbalance of these substances in the brain could be another factor. Bipolar can activate on its own; however, it may also be triggered by external factors such as psychological stress and social circumstances. (Bressert)

Brain-imaging studies have allowed scientists to study what happens inside the brain of a person who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Newer brain imaging tools such as the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission topography (PET) have allowed researchers to take live pictures of the brain when it is functioning. Some studies have indicated that the brains of people who have bipolar disorder may be different from the brains of healthy individuals or people with other mental disorders. One study concluded that using the MRI, the pattern of brain development in the brain of children was similar to that in children who had “multi-dimensional impairment,” which is a disorder that overlaps bipolar and schizophrenia. This suggests that the pattern for brain development may be related to and cause general risk of unstable moods. (”NIMH”)
Martinez-Aran A, Vieta E, Reinares M, et al conducted a study in order to examine the different states of bipolar disorder and whether cognitive functioning played a role in it. Participants included 30 depressed bipolar patients, 34 manic or hypomanic bipolar patients, and 44 euthymic bipolar patients. Another group of individuals that consisted of 30 people that were healthy were used as a comparison group. They concluded that the 3 groups showed cognitive dysfunction in verbal memory and frontal executive tasks. The impairment of verbal memory was related to the duration of illness and the numbers of previous manic episodes, hospitalizations, and suicide attempts. A poorer performance was observed in all of the bipolar groups regarding verbal memory and cognitive functioning. (”Medscape Psychiatry”)

There are many different ways in which one can develop the bipolar disorder .One of them is through life-stressors, for instance divorce, financial loses, job loses, etc. Besides being genetically linked, there has been research that has shown that children whose parents are bipolar are often surrounded by environmental stressors. These parents have a tendency to have wide and unpredicted mood swings, alcohol or substance abuse, financial and sexual indiscretions, and hospitalizations. Although not all offspring that are bipolar will develop the bipolar disorder, many of these children of bipolar parents do develop different mental disorders such as ADHD, major depression, etc. Environmental factors also play a role in developing bipolar disorder episodes when the individuals are genetically predisposed. Children who grow up in bipolar families may have a parent who is unable to control their mood or emotions. Some of these children may even live with verbal abuse and physical abuse if the parent is not medicated or is trying to medicate themselves with alcohol or drugs. (”Web MD”)
Individuals who have been able to maintain noncritical familial relationships, strong support social networks, and lower rates of major live events are more likely to experience fewer symptoms of bipolar over time. Several studies have suggested that individuals with bipolar disorder experience less social support than those who do not have a mental disorder. Independent life events are related to the increased risk of relapse and a slower time to recover from episodes. The best predictors are negative life events involving loss. (”ISPS”)

Works Cited

"Bipolar Disorder." NIMH ·. National Institute of Mental Health, 28 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <>.

"Bipolar Disorder Causes: Genetics, Brain Chemicals, Environment, and More." WebMD. WebMD, 2005. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <>.

Brussert, Steve. "The Causes of Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) | Psych Central." Psych Psych Central. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <>.

"Cognitive Function Across Manic or Hypomanic, Depressed, and Euthymic States in Bipolar Disorder." MEDLINE Abstracts: Bipolar Disorder and Cognitive Functioning. 23 Feb. 2004. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <>.

"Sociocultural Factors and Contemporary Psychodynamic Speculations in Bipolar Disorder - ISPS-US: Dr. Koehler's Posting." Welcome To ISPS-US. ISPS-US, 2005. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <>.