Bipolar Parents Have Kids With Highly Reactive Stress Hormone
According to a new study, children who have at least one parent suffering from bipolar disorder are more at risk of developing mental conditions later in their lives. It seems that these children respond to everyday stress with higher levels of cortisol than the average child.
Let’s better understand what bipolar disorder is. This psychiatric diagnosis is also known by the name manic-depressive disorder because it is characterized by episodes of mania or depression and even both at the same time. Furthermore, these episodes can be separated by episodes of normal mood, but in some people mania and depression can rapidly alternate, this being known as rapid cycling. Moreover, if there are extreme episodes of mania, these can lead to psychosis and even symptoms of delusion and hallucinations. Genetic factors contribute the most to the development of bipolar disorders, but the environment also counts as one of the factors. It can be treated with special drugs and psychotherapy also plays a very important role in the treatment of patients who suffer from bipolar disorder.
Now, according to scientists, has been found that the stress hormone called cortisol can play a very important role in bipolar disorder. This is the first study to show that the levels of cortisol are higher in children whose parents suffer from this mental condition. According to senior author Dr. Mark Ellenbogen, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychopathology at Concordia University, previous studies have shown that kids whose parents suffered from bipolar disorder were four times more likely to develop this condition but what they tried to do was to find out why that was happening. Thus, they measured the cortisol levels in children during both chronic and short-term stress periods and what they discovered was that in both situations, the children whose parents suffered from bipolar disorder showed higher levels of cortisol than the kids whose parents did not suffer from the disorder. Ellenbogen said that affected children were biologically more prone to develop stressful moods in such environments. “This higher reactivity to stress might be one explanation of why these offspring end up developing disorders and is a clear risk factor to becoming ill later on.” Ellenbogen also said that given that these things happen during early childhood, both parents and children should be taught how to cope better with stress, in order to prevent children from developing these mental conditions in the future. Given that most symptoms of bipolar disorder occur during late adolescence or young adulthood, the diagnosis is given based on self-reported experiences and on observed behavior. Furthermore, during depressive episodes, suicidal thoughts may appear but there can also be cases of creativity (many artists are known from suffering from bipolar disorder, one of them being Vincent van Gogh).11