According to the statistics, more than 1% of the U.S. population is diagnosed with bipolar depression. The mental disorder, also known as manic-depressive disease, significantly affects the quality of one’s life. A person suffers from frequent mood swings, experiences the periods of extremely high or extremely low energy and spirit, feels hopeless, loses interest in daily activities, and what is even more terrible may develop suicidal thinking.
Some people develop the first symptoms of bipolar depression early in their childhood, others face the disease later in life; but it is known that about half of all suffers go undiagnosed and, consequently, untreated. Under such circumstances, learning the causes of bipolar depression becomes the task of essential importance not only for scientists and doctors, but for patients and their relatives as well.
It is a pity but the modern science lacks sufficient research data and information on the reasons or causes of bipolar depression. Most scientists claim that there is no single reason for bipolar depression, but it is most often caused by some combination of causes and risk factors. Anyway, below is the summary of what modern science says about the causes of bipolar depression.
It is a common knowledge that bipolar depression tends to run in families. Many people suffering from bipolar depression have close relatives with the similar disease. Thus, genes are claimed to be the major and very often the only cause of this mental disorder.
Based on the twin studies, the researchers demonstrated that in case one of the identical twins develop bipolar depression, the second twin has about 74 to 96 % chances to develop this condition too. This is the main well-researched evidence which makes genes to be the most significant if not exclusive cause of bipolar depression.
Brain chemistry is often referred next to genes as the cause of bipolar depression. Abnormalities in the functioning of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for transmitting signals within the human nervous system, may also cause the development of bipolar depression. For the time beings, among all known neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine are those which are associated with bipolar depression. That is why popular medications used against this kind of mental disorder affect those chemicals, either increasing or decreasing their amount in brains.
Changes in Brain Structure
Certain changes in brains components and its parts are said to be the causes of many serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to the modern methods of studying the brain structure, scientists also detected certain changes, which are specific for people who have bipolar depression.
Scientists have found out that there are certain differences in brain structure of the diseased people and those without depression. Mostly, doctors say about the enlarged cerebral ventricles and the increased volume (up to 15%) of the spaces between the folds of the brain. Scientists believe that such changes may lead to the development of bipolar depression, because it is already well-researched that similar changes of brain structure (though to a much greater extent) cause schizophrenia.
Body Rhythms Disturbance
For many years scientists researched the association between body rhythms and mental disorders occurrence. As the results of many studies scientists concluded that changes or disturbances of natural body rhythms may contribute to the development of bipolar depression.
Based on the findings about body rhythms scientists developed several approaches to improve the symptoms of bipolar depression. For example, light therapy is considered to be effective in treating patients with this type of mental disease.
Environment has a great influence on a person and his health condition. Some stressful events, such as loss of a job, death of a close friend or relative, may contribute to the development of bipolar depression. Surely, for the time being there is no information that would define some environmental factors as the major cause of bipolar depression, but the combination of genetic predisposition with the frequent and severe stresses may definitely result in the flare-up of the mental disorder.
Of course, bipolar depression has a very negative influence on the quality of person’s life. Irrespective to the cause of bipolar depression, it is the combination of qualified medical help with the support of close friends and relative, which can help to improve the mental health of a depression sufferer. Anyway, despair is not what helps with depression. Don’t forget that bipolar depression is a treatable condition for the time being and there are sufficient amount of ways to overcome it.