Bipolar Disorder; The Genes Don’t Fall Far from the Tree

For those who have followed this blog you know that the fundamental question that every addict or alcoholic must answer is “why”. Why do I use? Why am I in this position in my life and how do I get back on track? Why can’t I stop? Why do I keep subjecting myself and my loved ones to this drama and trauma?

The answer for many is Bipolar Disorder. And while Bipolar disorder may be the buzz word of the new millennium leading to an over diagnosis in some circles; it is clearly under diagnosed in the substance abuse population. Which leads to another “why”. Why am I Bipolar?

For most the answer lies in their family tree. Today I saw a client with an addiction who presented to her first day of treatment significantly depressed. she had never before sough out treatment but her family knew she needed help and she finally agreed. On the surface it seemed as though she just suffered from a straight forward Major Depressive Episode. And who could blame her–given what her addiction a=had done to her life and the lives of her family along with the stressor of a bad marriage. But underneath the surface there was more to the story. Her Father was an alcoholic. She had 2 Brothers and a Sister who were alcoholics. Another Sister who suffered from Major Depressive Disorder for many years. And while never seeking treatment herself she had suffered with mood swings for many years.

When her psychological testing was complete the proof was in black and white. but long before she answered the first question on the questionnaire it was blatantly obvious that only one diagnosis would be made: Bipolar Disorder. Her Father has pasted away and her 2 brothers and 2 sisters don’t know yet, but they are Bipolar as well. The familial concordance of Bipolar disorder is astronomical and there is little chance of avoiding it. Knowing that allows us to reach out to family members sooner and be more vigilant of their own symptoms of mood before their lives are turned upside down.

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