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Kids of Bipolar or Schizophrenic Parents More Likely to Face Early Mental Health Issues

Kids of Bipolar or Schizophrenic Parents More Likely to Face Early Mental Health Issues

This is a wonderful article I found and had to share it with you, my readers. It deals with something I always think about, passing the bipolar gene to your child. It’s not something I’m willing to do, but for those who do decide to have kids, good for you and good luck, with all sincerity. I cannot imagine seeing someone that I made hurt so deeply because of this disease, so that is why my husband and I have choosen to stay child-free. But to each their own. I’m going to highlight the article’s main points, but be sure to read the whole article to really understand. 

“New research shows that children born to one or both parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer mental health problems by the age of seven.”

“Presented at the International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) meeting in Milan, Italy, in October 2016, the Danish High Risk and Resilience Study — VIA 7 — included 522 children who were seven at the start of the study.”

“Of the children, 202 were born to at least one person diagnosed with schizophrenia (located using Danish registries), while 120 of them were born to least one parent diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The remaining 200 children were born to parents without any of these diagnoses.”

“The results show children born to parents with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder score higher than the other children using a tool called the child behavior checklist (CBCL). This is a widely used questionnaire with more than 100 questions given to parents and teachers that describes behavioral problems or signs of possible illness, the researchers said, explaining a higher score represents more problems.”

Sample CBCL: 

“Mean scores for children in the schizophrenia group were 27.2, the bipolar group 23.5, and control group 17.1.”

“There were also marked differences between the three groups concerning psychopathology, neurocognition, motor functioning and their home environment, according to the study’s findings.”

“Children born to parents with schizophrenia, and to a minor extent also bipolar disorder, were found to have increased risk for problems such as anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and stress/adjustment disorder, and were also more likely to display neurocognitive problems or delays. They also were more likely to grow up in families with a lower social status and a higher risk of adverse life events, according to the researchers.”

“She noted the researchers plan to follow the children until age 11, conducting a new assessment before puberty.”

““We do not know if the impaired children will catch up in neurocognitive areas or if their mental problems will be in remission, but since social aspects and environmental factors contribute significantly to child development — and they were quite marked already at age seven years — we are expecting similar or even worse results could be seen at age 11 years,” she said.”



Area of brain linked to bipolar disorder pinpointed

Area of brain linked to bipolar disorder pinpointed

I have wondered for years what part of the brain can make you bipolar, or at least, what part of the brain is consistent with those who have bipolar? Being bipolar, I have always questioned what happened to my brain when I became diagnosed bipolar? Well I know now, trauma. Lots and lots of trauma. When I was in my 20’s, and being first diagnosed, I thought I was going crazy. I didn’t understand what was happening to my brain. It felt like it was changing, literally. It gave me headaches and worse. Well, yesterday a new article came out claiming that they pin pointed where in the brain is linked to bipolar. I have shown parts of the article, but to read the whole thing, go to the source at the bottom of the page. 

Summary: “A volume decrease in specific parts of the brain’s hippocampus — long identified as a hub of mood and memory processing — was linked to bipolar disorder in a new study.

“A volume decrease in specific parts of the brain’s hippocampus — long identified as a hub of mood and memory processing — was linked to bipolar disorder in a study led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).”

“Our study is one of the first to locate possible damage of bipolar disorder in specific subfields within the hippocampus,” said Bo Cao, Ph.D., first and corresponding author and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “This is something that researchers have been trying to answer. The theory was that different subfields of the hippocampus may have different functions and may be affected differently in different mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder and major depression disorder.”

“The research team used a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a state-of-the-art segmentation approach to discover differences in the volumes of subfields of the hippocampus, a seahorse-shaped region in the brain. Subjects with bipolar disorder were compared to healthy subjects and subjects with major depressive disorder.”

“Researchers found that subjects with bipolar disorder had reduced volumes in subfield 4 of the cornu ammonis (CA), two cellular layers and the tail portion of hippocampus. The reduction was more severe in patients with bipolar I disorder than other mood disorders investigated.”

“Further, in patients with bipolar I disorder, the volumes of certain areas such as the right CA 1 decreased as the illness duration increased. Volumes of other CA areas and hippocampal tail were more reduced in subjects who had more manic episodes.”

  • The picture below shows hippocampal subfield measurements. 



What Is Bipolar II Disorder?

What Is Bipolar II Disorder?

“Bipolar II disorder (pronounced “bipolar two”) is a form of mental illness. Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I disorder, with moods cycling between high and low over time.”

“However, in bipolar II disorder, the “up” moods never reach full-blown mania. The less-intense elevated moods in bipolar II disorder are called hypomanic episodes, or hypomania.”

“A person affected by bipolar II disorder has had at least one hypomanic episode in his or her life. Most people with bipolar II disorder suffer more often from episodes of depression. This is where the term “manic depression” comes from.”

“In between episodes of hypomania and depression, many people with bipolar II disorder typically live normal lives.”

*Who Is at Risk for Bipolar II Disorder?

“Virtually anyone can develop bipolar II disorder. About 2.5% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of bipolar disorder – nearly 6 million people.”

“Most people are in their teens or early 20s when symptoms of bipolar disorder first start. Nearly everyone with bipolar II disorder develops it before age 50. People with an immediate family member who has bipolar are at higher risk.”

*What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder?

“During a hypomanic episode, elevated mood can manifest itself as either euphoria (feeling “high”) or as irritability.”

Symptoms during hypomanic episodes include:

“Flying suddenly from one idea to the next.”

“Having exaggerated self confidence.”
“Rapid, “pressured” (uninterruptable) and loud speech.”

“Increased energy, with hyperactivity and a decreased need for sleep.”

“People experiencing hypomanic episodes are often quite pleasant to be around. They can often seem like the “life of the party” — making jokes, taking an intense interest in other people and activities, and infecting others with their positive mood.”

“What’s so bad about that, you might ask? Hypomania can also lead to erratic and unhealthy behavior. Hypomanic episodes can sometimes progress onward to full manias that affect a person’s ability to function (bipolar I disorder). In mania, people might spend money they don’t have, seek out sex with people they normally wouldn’t, and engage in other impulsive or risky behaviors with the potential for dangerous consequences.”

“The vast majority of people with bipolar II disorder experience more time with depressive than hypomanic symptoms. Depressions can occur soon after hypomania subsides, or much later. Some people cycle back and forth between hypomania and depression, while others have long periods of normal mood in between episodes.”

“Untreated, an episode of hypomania can last anywhere from a few days to several months. Most commonly, symptoms continue for a few weeks to a few months.”

“Depressive episodes in bipolar II disorder are similar to “regular” clinical depression, with depressed mood, loss of pleasure, low energy and activity, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide. Depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder can last weeks, months, or rarely years.”

Source: Bipolar II Disorder


Bipolar Disorder and Foods to Avoid

Bipolar Disorder and Foods to Avoid

“If you or a loved has bipolar disorder, you know how important it is to manage mood episodes with bipolar medications and healthy lifestyle habits. But did you also know that certain foods and dietary supplements might play a role in helping — or hindering — people with bipolar disorder.”

There is no specific bipolar diet. Nevertheless, it is important to make wise dietary choices that will help you maintain a healthy weight and stay well. These choices include:”

“Avoiding the “Western” style diet that’s rich in red meats, saturated fats and trans fats, and simple carbohydrates. This eating style is linked to a higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Eating less saturated fats and simple carbohydrates can help overall health but does not directly affect the symptoms of bipolar disorder.”

“Eating a balance of protective, nutrient-dense foods. These foods include fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, cold-water fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, soy products, and nuts and seeds. These foods provide the levels of nutrients necessary to maintain good health and prevent disease, in general.”

“Watching caloric intake and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Some findings show that those with bipolar disorder may have a greater risk for being overweight or obese. Talk to your doctor about ways to avoid weight gain when taking bipolar medications.”

Does Fish Oil Improve Mood With Bipolar Disorder?

“The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fatty fish at least two times a week. Good choices include:”

  • Albacore tuna
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Trout

“If you do not like fish, the AHA recommends taking 0.5 to 1.8 grams of fish oil per day as supplements. That way you will get enough dietary omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).”

“Fish oil can help keep your heart healthy. But some experts also believe that fish oil might play a role in brain function and behavior. While studies of omega-3 fatty acids for mood symptoms are not conclusive, some experts believe that they may be helpful in some people with bipolar disorder, particularly if they have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease or high triglycerides.”

“Some research suggests that getting more omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil is linked to greater volume in areas of the brain. In particular, these areas are related to mood and behavior. In one study of 75 patients, one of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids was decreasing depression in bipolar disorder.”

Which Foods Should I Avoid if I Have Bipolar Disorder?

Some general dietary recommendations for treating bipolar disorder include:

“Getting only moderate amounts of caffeine and not stopping caffeine use abruptly.”

“Avoiding high-fat meals to lower the risk for obesity.”

“Watching your salt if you have high blood pressure but not skimping on salt if you are being prescribed lithium (low salt intake can cause higher levels of lithium in the blood).”

“Following your doctor’s instructions to stay away from foods that may affect your specific bipolar medication, if any.”

“In addition, you need to be wary of natural dietary supplements that can cause a drug-herb interaction.”

“Avoiding too much caffeine may be helpful for getting good sleep, which is especially important for people with bipolar disorder. When someone with bipolar disorder is feeling depressed, extra caffeine may temporarily cause a boost in energy, and possibly mood. The problem is that caffeine can disrupt sleep. Caffeine can also cause nervousness, heart palpitations, and headaches, worsen high blood pressure, or cause irritation in the stomach or esophagus in people that have acid reflux.”

“In addition to lowering caffeine, it’s important to avoid high-fat meals with some bipolar medications. High-fat meals may delay the time it takes for some bipolar medications to be absorbed into your system. Talk to your doctor about your medications and necessary dietary changes.”

“If you take MAO inhibitors (a certain class of antidepressant that includes Emsam, Nardil, and Parnate), it’s important to avoid tyramine-containing foods. These foods can cause severe hypertension in people taking MAO inhibitors. Some foods high in tyramine are:”

  • Overly ripe bananas and banana peels
  • Tap beer
  • Fermented cheese
  • Aged meats
  • Some wines, such as Chianti
  • Soy sauce in high quantities

“Your doctor can give you a list of foods to avoid if you take these drugs.”

“Also, avoid taking natural dietary supplements if you are taking bipolar medications. Supplements such as St. John’s wort and SAM-e are touted to treat moderate depression. A few studies show benefit for some people with depression. But these natural therapies can interact with antidepressants and other bipolar medications. Discuss any natural dietary supplement with your doctor to make sure it is safe.”
What About Alcohol and Bipolar Disorder?

“Instructions for most psychiatric medications warn users not to drink alcohol, but people with bipolar disorder frequently abuse alcohol and other drugs. The abuse is possibly an attempt to self-medicate or to treat their disturbing mood symptoms, and they may also cause mood symptoms that can mimic those of bipolar disorder.”

“Alcohol is a depressant. That’s why many people use it as a tranquilizer at the end of a hard day or as an assist for tense social situations. While some patients stop drinking when they are depressed, it is more common that someone with bipolar disorder drinks during low moods. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with bipolar disorder are five times more likely to develop alcohol misuse and dependence than the rest of the population.”

“The link between bipolar disorder and substance abuse is well established. Alcohol is a leading trigger of depressive episodes in many people who are vulnerable to depression or bipolar disorder. About 15% of all adults who have a psychiatric illness in any given year also experience a substance use disorder at the same time. Substance use disorders can seriously disrupt efforts to treat bipolar disorder and often may require their own forms of treatment.”

Can I Drink Grapefruit Juice While on Bipolar Drugs?

“Be careful. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice with your bipolar medication. Grapefruit juice may increase the blood levels of many psychiatric medications that are used in bipolar disorder. These include some antidepressants (such as Zoloft or Luvox), the anti-anxiety drug Buspar, certain anticonvulsants (such as Tegretol), some antipsychotics (such as Latuda, Seroquel or Geodon), stimulants (such as Adderall or Dexedrine), and many sedative-hypnotics (benzodiazepines), such as Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, which could cause excessive drowsiness, mental impairment and even toxicity.”

Should I Take Bipolar Medication With or Without Food?

“Each bipolar medication is different. So talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking the first dose. Some bipolar drugs can be taken with or without food. Others (such as Latuda or Geodon) are better absorbed into your system when taken with food or are less effective if taken with food (such as Saphris). Your doctor or pharmacist can pull the latest recommendations on taking the bipolar medication so you can safely take the medicine and get the full benefit of the drug.”

Source: Bipolar Disorder and Foods to Avoid




  • A quote from below: “Cyclothymic disorder symptoms may also worsen over time which can lead to a clinical diagnosis of bipolar or bipolar II disorder.”

When I first found out about cyclothymia, I was really interested in finding out more. I discovered it’s related to being bipolar, but it’s a much lesser form. Lucky, so I thought to myself, since I have bipolar disorder. I sure wish I had half of the disorder too! This article explains all about cyclothymia and what things you might do to help someone. 

“Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder in which a person has mood swings over a period of years that go from mild depression to euphoria and excitement. It is classed as a “mood disorder” with mood swings that are “less severe” than for bipolar disorder. Episodes of “hypomania” and “mild depression” are present for at least 2 years in adults and (1 or more years in children & adolescents).”

“Cyclothymic disorder is a chronic mood disorder which causes alternately states of depression, sadness, discomfort and excessive states of happiness, increased energy and activity, and between these states – periods of even-tempered behaviors. One of the main differences from bipolar disorder is that cyclothymic disorder consists of “short periods of mild depression and short periods of hypomania” with periods of even-tempered mood. Bipolar disorder is more severe as it consists of at least one major depressive episode along with manic episodes and/or mixed episodes.”

“Cyclothymic disorder has a “dysthymic phase” which includes symptoms of difficulty making decisions, problems concentrating, poor memory recall, guilt, self-criticism, low self-esteem, pessimism, self-destructive thinking, constant sadness, apathy, hopelessness, helplessness and irritability. Also common are quick temper, poor judgment, lack of motivation, social withdrawal, lack of sexual desire, self-neglect, fatigue, appetite change and insomnia.”

“Cyclothymic symptoms include unusually good mood or cheerfulness (euphoria), extreme optimism, inflated self-esteem, rapid speech, racing thoughts, aggressive or hostile behavior, lack of consideration for others, agitation, massively increased physical activity, risky behavior, spending sprees, increased drive to perform or achieve goals, increased sexual drive, decreased need for sleep, tendency to be easily distracted, and inability to concentrate.”

“Although cyclothymic disorder’s symptoms are “less severe and episodes are not as long lasting” as with the symptoms of bipolar disorder it can still cause a lot of distress and a marked impairment in a person’s functioning. Cyclothymic disorder symptoms may also worsen over time which can lead to a clinical diagnosis of bipolar or bipolar II disorder. I believe that before I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder I suffered from cyclothymic disorder. For me I had periods of depression that alternated with periods of euphoria or “mild mania” along with having times where my mood was fairly even/level. Because I was misdiagnosed with only having depression (dysthymia) for years I was not on the correct medication and over time my symptoms became worse. I also have adhd and generalized anxiety disorder as secondary diagnoses so that complicated things even more. I was never actually diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder but I had all of the symptoms that I have mentioned earlier. So in my case I believe that my cyclothymic symptoms progressed into a bipolar II disorder. I am not sure if my symptoms will worsen over time and turn into a full blown bipolar disorder. I am hoping this is not the case. Since being diagnosed with bipolar II about a year ago it seems that my psychiatrist has me on the proper medication as I have been getting more stable day by day.”

“Treatment for cyclothymic disorder can include medications such as mood stabilizers and antidepressants, along with individual psychotherapy and/or group therapy. It is important to get the proper medical treatment for cyclothymic disorder as it can turn into bipolar disorder, so your symptoms should be closely monitored. Any kind of “self-medicating” through alcohol and/or substance abuse can also make symptoms worse. Because cyclothymic disorder is a chronic condition characterized by numerous hypomanic episodes and numerous periods of depressive symptoms for at least 2-years it is important that you and your doctor monitor your symptoms on a frequent basis. If you find that you have trouble tracking your moods a good therapist or mental health counselor should be able to help you with that. It would also be beneficial for you to educate yourself as much as you can on cyclothymic disorder.”

Source: Cyclothymia




I was diagnosed Bipolar around 24, but my husband as well as my mother, both think I developed it early on, I think it developed in my 20’s. The following article articulates why most adults who get diagnosed later in life, may have already had it and it didn’t manifest until later. Enjoy! 

“There’s a reason the image of the floundering, scared, shaky post-teen struggling to enter adulthood is a cliché. Between moving out of your parent’s home, going to college and getting a job, lack of sleep, drugs, and unrestricted access to alcohol, becoming an adult is fucking hard. So it’s no wonder that this period is popularly associated with having a mental breakdown. But is there any truth behind the pop culture trope? What about kids from wealthy families who don’t have the stresses the rest of us do in early adulthood, or people whose most trying times come in their 30s or 40s? Is the appearance of mental illness in young people a matter of environment or biology?”

“To better understand these questions, I phoned Johanna Jarcho, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health whose work studies differences in brain development in healthy people versus those who have mental health problems, with a focus on anxiety. She explained how our brains interact with social conditions to influence our mental health, and why the best way to deal with a problem is to get it diagnosed early.”

“I’ve often heard it repeated that mental illnesses frequently begin in a person’s late adolescence or early 20s. Anecdotally that seems consistent with what I’ve seen, but is there any scientific basis to this claim?”

“Dr. Johanna Jarcho: Yeah, the vast majority of mental health disorders do emerge during one’s adolescence or early 20s. If you’re going to have an anxiety disorder as an adult, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll have had it as an adolescent. Basically, you’re not going to develop an anxiety disorder as an adult. You’re going to develop it as a kid and then it’ll carry through to adulthood. Emerging research suggests that this is because adolescence is a time when the brain is changing to a great degree. We once thought that the brain didn’t change that much after earlier childhood, but what we’ve seen is that the brain continues to undergo really profound changes up until your early 20s. It’s still quite malleable, so being exposed to different influences in your social environment can really have a profound impact on the way that your brain continues to develop.”

“You said that much has to do with brain development. At the same time, young adulthood seems to be a time where people are going through major upheavals, both socially and economically—things like college, entering the workforce, or living away from your parents. Is there a way to quantify the effect of environment versus biology?”

“Some types of mental health disorders are much more genetically based than others. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have a much higher rate of inheritance. If you have a first degree relative like a parent or sibling who has one of those disorders, you’re at a much greater risk for developing it yourself, and there are things in the environment that can potentiate that. For other disorders like depression or anxiety, it’s less heritable. Whether or not you develop one of those disorders is a lot more contingent on your environment. Young adults go through all these different social changes, but we evolved to be able to make this big transition from being with parents to forging adulthood. What happens during this transition can definitely have a profound effect on whether you grow to be “healthy” or to have these types of disorders.”

“We’re still finding out more about how much of this is biologically based and how much is environmental. We’ve learned from genetics that it’s not just the genes and it’s not just the environment, it’s an interaction between the two.”

“So a mental illness is not just an inevitable thing that people either will or won’t have?”

No. A lot of us tend to focus on the negative, but it’s really important to focus on the fact that there’s a lot that can be done to protect against developing mental health disorders, even if you are at risk. The social environment could tip you over into becoming sick, but in a good social environment you can actually thrive.”

“What kind of things should people be aware of?”

“It’s important to know what you’re at risk for. Let’s say you had a parent with psychopathology; that certainly is a risk factor. If you’ve had a difficult time engaging in your social world as a kid, that’s another risk factor. If your parents sheltered you instead of giving you some exposure to difficult things and showing you how to cope, that’s another risk factor. The type of parenting that you had as a child can really affect the way you cope with the new challenges as you launch into adulthood.”

“Let’s say a person is starting to experience symptoms of a mental health disorder. What can they do to mitigate harm?”

“The most important thing that you can do to mitigate the effects that any kind of psychopathology might have is to get treatment earlier and when you’re younger. It’s like how habits are formed: they get strengthened over time and once they’re established they become biological, in a way. It’s much more difficult to break them and they stick around for a long time. If you think there’s something that may be wrong, you should try to get help before things become a crisis, before you feel like it’s having profound effects on your life.”

“Health care is so expensive and opaque that I think a lot people have a feeling that, “Maybe I’m depressed, maybe I have anxiety, but I’m probably fine.” They don’t want to potentially spend thousands of dollars seeing a doctor, so they wait until it’s absolutely necessary.”

“If you wait on getting treatment, your symptoms can become much more intractable. You save money in the short term, but your long term spending is much higher. We do preventative care for physical illness, but as a society we aren’t quite there with mental health.”

“What do you make of self-diagnosis forums, WebMD, and other online health tools?”

“I think that because health care has not been readily available in the past, and because there is still a stigma against going to see a mental health professional, people have relied on the internet to understand what’s going on with them. That can be a good first step, and certainly it can underscore the fact that you’re not alone in the types of symptoms that you’re having. But that doesn’t necessarily get you to treatment. It’s important to be able to go to a professional and say, “I think I need help with this.” Certainly the more resources the better, especially for people who haven’t had a lot of exposure to receiving mental health care. It can be scary. The internet can be useful but it doesn’t get you a diagnosis and it doesn’t necessarily get you treatment. But more information is always better.”

To read the rest:


Bipolar Triggers

Bipolar Triggers

I have my bipolar quite under control, but I still have triggers that can set me off very easily. My triggers can be words, a song, treating me a certain way,and so forth. If you want to help those with mental illnesses, you should learn about triggers and how to spot them and what to do once a person has been set off by a trigger of theirs. 

“The mood swings of bipolar disorder can be profoundly destructive. Depression can make you isolate yourself from your friends and loved ones. You may find it impossible to get out of bed, let alone keep your job. During manic periods, you may be reckless and volatile.”

“Picking up the pieces after a mood episode can be hard. The people you need most — especially your friends and family — may be angry with you or reluctant to help.”

“The best way to avoid these mood episodes is to get treatment for bipolar disorder. But unfortunately, periods of hypomania, mania, or depression aren’t completely preventable. Even people who always take their medication and are careful with their health can still have mood swings from time to time.”

“That’s why it’s important to catch changes in your mood, energy levels, and sleeping patterns before they develop into something serious.”

Mood Swing Triggers in Bipolar Disorder

“At first, mood swings may take you by surprise if you have bipolar disorder. But over time, you might start to see patterns or signs that you’re entering a period of mania or depression. Aside from a shift in your mood, look for changes in your:”

  • Sleep patterns
  • Energy level
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Sex drive
  • Self-esteem
  • Concentration


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