Let’s END Bipolar Disorder in the Next Generation

Daniel Horowitz for NPR


The #1 way to prevent #1 way to prevent disorder in the next generation?

Do not use any SSRI anti depressants in your children if you have bipolar in the family tree. Yes, I actually said this and I mean it.

What Do We Know about Bipolar and Genetics

Substance induced bipolar disorder allows us to see genetic expression in action. If a person has bipolar disorder in the family and has only experienced depression with no mania, this person might or might not actually have the genes that lead to bipolar. At this time, we have no way of measuring this. What we DO know is that if this person uses an SSRI anti depressant for depression, there is a very good chance that the result will be mania and what was once only depression becomes the much more serious illness of bipolar disorder. We call this turning on the bipolar gene. This tells me that many more people actually have the bipolar gene that is non expressed than don’t.

What is Epigenetics?

This is the THEORY that we can make changes in our current life to change the expression of our genes. The concept of epigenetics only works if these changes to the genes are then passed to offspring. We do see this in plants. There is no evidence of this in humans when it comes to bipolar. Much more research is needed, but it does provide some hope. I’m writing an article on the topic this week and will put the link here when it’s ready. ALL people with bipolar who want to have kids need to learn about the theory of epigenetics.

Is Not Taking Anti Depressants Epigenetics in Action?

Possibly, but we can’t know this for sure unless we do studies on people with substance induced genetic bipolar and whether their children are more likely to have bipolar. I say let’s not risk it and make sure that no one who has bipolar in a recent part of the family tree uses SSRI anti depressants.

By recent I mean parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

This is one way to ensure that the children of people with bipolar can keep that particular group of genes dormant.


Update:  A Facebook reader made a very good point after reading my post. What if your child has a serious illness outside of bipolar that is only helped with SSRI drugs? Then, this is a trade off. I would suggest using the drug while always looking for signs of mania. This would involve teaching the child to look for signs of mania in his or her thinking and sleep patterns. I can be a bit one sided in my writing when I get passionate about something and always appreciate someone pointing out where I need to change my language. 

This pic is from an NPR story Combining The DNA Of 3 People Raises Ethical Questions.


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