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Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 

Are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia genetically related?

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Are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia genetically related?

Jun 17, 2009 | Op-eds | 0 comments

Since starting to study psychology at University, I’ve discovered a couple of things about my personality, studies and how though lots of them appear to repeat the same things, over and over again, some do actually pull in information of interest.

I’m going to explain my research process in greater depth in another post, because it works for academic, personal and professional projects, but I have google alert emails daily that post information (news and blog posts mostly) that mention my keywords prominently.  In the ‘bipolar+disorder’ set, I found this link, and wanted to share the underlying idea with you.

The link was called ‘common causes of schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder’ and talks about a study that was undertaken in Sweden and has recently appeared in the Lancet.

What the study found

Though I’ve not seen this study myself (because I can’t access Aleph, the computer’s library from home), it says that there was a statistical link found between those with bipolar disorder and the incidence of schizophrenia, and vice versa.  Net result of the study of 2 million families was interesting, and probably not for the reasons listed in the report.

Of the 2 million studied families, 35,985 (1.7% – or just under 2 in 100) had schizophrenia and 40,487 (2.02%) had bipolar disorder as a confirmed diagnosis.  In total, they amount to less than 4% of the studied group, and yet, they found that there was a link of increased incidence between the two diseases if you have one in your family.

I know how convoluted these studies can be, first hand – and my tutors deliberately teach me to question the information in every study to ensure that it meets both scientific, ethical and common sense standards.  And the question now arises, having looked at the brief abstract, ‘is there an increased or correlatable percentage between the 96% and their chance of developing bipolar disorder?  What diseases make up the ’1 in 4′ percentage that is always so highly vaunted in medical fields, if bipolar and schizophrenia only make up 4% in these studied cases, and most importantly, is there a real world value to this information, other than a statistical link to two diseases that paralyze families?

I’ll let you know what I find out ;)


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