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Bipolar and genetics


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Do many of you have parents who are bipolar? My dad is fiercely opposed to anyone even discussing it. Every time I deal with him right now I end up sitting in the corner shaking once he is gone. I can't tell if I just don't cope with some people or if he is the problem.

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My mum has depression, my dad died too young for us to know for certain but a derogatory comment by my uncle leads me to believe he had a depression-related illness. Officially diagnosed Bipolar Disorder first shows up in my aunt (I think both she and I are of the mind she was misdiagnosed though) and my grandpa. I'm sure there's more to my family's mental health story, but my uncle believes I don't suffer from a mental illness and use it as an excuse to scrounge off my mother and, if he knew I was on disability, no doubt I'm abusing the government and misusing his taxes as well... so I've kind of run out of people to ask about my mental health tree.

 

It's very likely your dad is "the problem", and "the problem" is likely stigma ground into him by his parents and his peers. While I certainly don't condone it, try to understand that family members that have lived through previous decades more often than not will get downright fighty to avoid talking about mental illness and will harbour and repeat many of the misconceptions that existed surrounding mental illness during their younger years. It sucks, and it hurts, and it's unacceptable but also difficult to resolve - if you have another family member you can talk to whom tends to be more open-minded in general, try reaching out to them for information about both your family's mental health and why your dad might be struggling to talk with you about it.

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My father has some flavor of BP, probably NOS. He is very high functioning (well, he has slowed down, he's 77), and clearly got high, but was super productive. He self-medicated, and he had a couple of bad depressions, but usually he was on the high side.

 

His father was bipolar I. I barely remember him, he died when I was two. My memories may actually have been planted by others talking about him, but I have others memories on other subjects that predate his death.

 

But there are lots of stories about things he did when he was manic. He never did anything really out there, but he was cushioned by money, he was rich, so shopping sprees didn't harm him.

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Thanks for the comments :) I have to be careful not to judge everyone's behavior against my own. It is really difficult in my family to distinguish between very intense and nuts... when he is in full flight its just how he has also behaved. I don't handle shouting and monologs very well right now, but it makes it hard with other family.

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Neither of my parents have Bipolar disorder. It is not even in my family. My aunt has depression and OCD.My late aunt had schizophrenia. My cousin has depression. A few of my Dad's cousins have schizophrenia. No bipolar that I know of.

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My dad was an alcoholic. Looking back on his behavior, I do think he was bipolar. All my mental history seems to come from my dad's part of the family. My grandfather (dad's dad) was also an alcoholic who died of alcoholism. My grandmother, though not diagnosed with alcoholism, was an alcoholic, I think they were all self medicating. My dad was very against psychiatry and therapy. My mom is the one that pushed that. My dad acknowledged that he was an alcoholic, but wouldn't seek treatment because "he wanted to die". So, I believe mine came from my dad's side. There were all kinds of issues with my dad's side of the family, but of course such things were kept  hush hush, or just not acknowledged at all, or just brushed off as "personality quirks". But yeah, I think I got a great big heaping dose of the mental cooties from my dad.

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My paternal grandmother was diagnosed with manic depression back in the 1950's. They gave her ECT and put her on lithium. My dad was an alcoholic, just like all the rest of the men in his family, world without end, amen; that made any other psych diagnosis impossible-that, and the fact that he wouldn't seek one. My mother is a unipolar depressive.

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There's a lot of MI on my mother's side, though not bipolar specifically.  My mother has depression, as does her younger brother.  She has an older brother (whom I've never met and only found out he existed on accident) who has untreated (refuses to treat) schizophrenia.  Her mother doesn't have a diagnosis, but she is an incredibly neat hoarder.  Her father died when I was little, but I know he was an alcoholic with anger issues, so maybe that was self-medicated for BP or something. 

 

I also recently found out that my my uncle on my dad's side has been dealing with severe depression/anxiety issues, so I guess there's some on both sides. 

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My dad never had a dx but he behaved unusually. There is some mi on his side, more so in later generations. I don't know if they were just called eccentric and not diagnosed or what.

I know someone who considers the genetic component a myth, but I believe it. Is real.

My mom has anxiety.

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There's this concept called genetic loading, where the more crazy there is in your family, the more likely you will be crazy. But the thing about it is that it doesn't have to be bipolar kids having bipolar parents, it can be a schizophrenic grandparent, a depressed aunt, an anxious mother, all combined. Some (really out there) researchers think that bipolar illness and schizophrenia share a spectrum. I don't know about that. But I've been wrong before (only once ;) )

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I have always been interested in this as there is depression, anxiety, schizophrenia autism and adhd in my family, but I appear to be the only one with bipolar disorder.

 

There are many studies/articles/research papers about the genetic overlap between various mental illnesses. I have only given links to two. 

 
 

Large study finds genetic "overlap" between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921154737.htm

 

Common Genetic Ground Found for Depression, Schizophrenia, Autism

 

http://healthland.time.com/2013/08/12/common-genetic-ground-found-for-depression-schizophrenia-autism/

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My mums side of the family is pretty stable. A couple of situational depressions, but nothing severe. My dads side I don't really know - his dad had an argument with his family, his mum lost contact with her family when she moved to the uk from Germany (just after the war), and my uncle no longer speaks to his children. So it's hard to tell what my extended family on that side have in the terms of mental illness. Nothing in the immediate family though, other than Alzheimer's. Certainly no bipolar anywhere.

Interesting articles about genetic overlap, it does make sense that the illnesses share the same genes..

Edited by katie.goodair
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My mom has depresson, and my dad has... well, I don't know what, but something is definitely wrong with him. My paternal grandmother has anxiety problems and my maternal grandmother has mild depression. My brother and uncle are both bipolar, and there are lots of other MI issues in my extended family.

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