(Closed) Family history of Bipolar. Risk for me and future kids??

posted 6 years ago in Wellness
Post # 3
Member
2270 posts
Buzzing bee

I am not passing my genes on either. I actually don’t want a kid anway, so it works out fine, but my family has a history of drug and alcohol addiction, and schizophrenia. My mother is schizophrenic and had 5 kids. My two older sisters and I seem to have dodged a bullet but my brother is schizophrenic now. He started descending into madness around 19 years of age, I’d say. It’s been shocking and I still can’t believe it.

I am not a bipolar expert by any means, but sometimes the two diagnoses overlapse; schizophrenia and bipolar. In schizophrenia, having an identical twin with schizophrenia leaves you with a 47% chance of being schizophrenic. Fraternal twins don’t have identical genes, so I’m assuming the risk is lower. As for bipolar, I really can’t say.

Do some googling. There is a lot of information on the internet.

 

Post # 5
Member
2270 posts
Buzzing bee

I just did some reading, and it’s not conclusive, but women have been diagnosed with bipolar after having a child. It is hard for researchers to determine if the women would have become bipolar anyway.

In my case, my mother’s schizophrenia manifested after having her first child. It is possible she had delusions and hallucinations, but hadn’t shared them, and the issues became exacerbated by having a child.It is also possible that she had a predisposition, and the childbirth triggered it.

 

Post # 7
Member
2270 posts
Buzzing bee

I googled “bipolar risk to child” or something like that. I’m using a macbook and I don’t know how to copy and paste a link.

I just did some more reading and found something VERY interesting that I hadn’t read before about. An identical twin of a schizophrenic child has about a 47% chance of developing schizophrenia UNLESS they did not share a placenta. Then the risk plummets to about 11%, which is the same risk that you’d have if your non-identical sister, brother, mother or father is shcizophrenic.

I have read many articles about how pregnancy issues seem to increase the risk of a child becoming schizophrenic. The fact that twins with identical genetics, yet different placentas, don’t have an elevated risk of schizophrenia compared to non-identical twins, is huge.

I know we are talking about bipolar in your case, but the implications of this study could reflect the transmission rate of other mental illnesses like bipolar, which is often diagnosed to middle class people who have the same symptoms as lower class people who are diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Genes are not destiny. I believe if you had a healthy pregnancy, and your child stayed away from drugs, especially marijuana, then the child would most likely be fine.

I would do some research into your SO’s family history as well. If he has schizophrenia or bipolar in his family, then I would not have children. If he doesn’t, then I believe the risk would be low enough to take the plunge and have a child.

Post # 8
Member
3 posts
Wannabee

Hi! I’m not sure if this link helps but it says a bit of info on what puts a person at risk of developing bipolar. http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=91.591

People who have parents with Bipolar have a 11.5 percent risk of developing the disease (15 to 20 times more likely than the general population). And its often triggered by stress and other things. (The link details more). It does say that having a child can be a trigger though. BUT, I wouldn’t worry TOO much about it being passed on to your children or you developing it. A lot of people with bipolar disorder can still live a happy life (usually with medication to help). Oh, ( i thought this was interesting) apparently Ben Stiller even has Bipolar- I’m sure he leds a fulfulling life still! 😀 Anyway, maybe go speak to your doctor/professional and explain your concerns, they might be able to give you some insight. And make your decision when you feel you have all the info you need. Good Luck!

Post # 9
Member
2270 posts
Buzzing bee

@Mina23:  That’s the same risk they attribute to developing schizophrenia if you have a schizophrenic parent.

I have read that schizophrenia is an umbrella term that actually encompasses many illnesses. There is a theory that bipolar, schizophrenia, psychotic depression, schizotypal personality, schizoaffective etc, are all the same illness in varying degrees. Depending on the doctor, you get different diagnoses.

This leads me to believe that a lot of the contributing factors for schizophrenia are also contributing factors for bipolar.

Having a healthy pregnancy, identifying and eliminating any food allergies you may have, avoiding drugs, most importantly marijuana, and having a healthy living environment seem to go a long way in reducing the odds of developing schizophrenia, and possibly bipolar as well.

 

Post # 10
Member
426 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@MissPatience:  Most of us in the mental health field believe in a “diathesis-stress” model, which is that there are genetic predispositions but then something (usually environmental stress) needs to trigger the symptoms.  So even though they may genetically be at risk, they could also never actually show symptoms.  As for risk, I just looked it up in my notes. Identical twins show rates of 72% for bipolar, for fraternal twins it is 14%. For adoption studies, biological parents were more likely to have a mood disturbance than adoptive parents.  Keep in mind that these studies are a little older so there may be newer data.

@bunnyharriet:  Some people don’t even believe that the term schizophrenia is valid, they think it covers a spectrum of symptoms that may not even be the same disorder.  Usually you can tell a difference between schizophrenia and bipolar because with bipolar the psychotic symptoms are mood-related, whereas schizophrenia they are not.  Also, with bipolar you usually don’t see the negative symptoms like you do with schizophrenia. Granted, this difference isn’t always as clean-cut as the DSM-IV makes it out to be.  And schizoaffective d/o complicates it even further!

Post # 11
Member
2270 posts
Buzzing bee

@zerlina:  Yes, I mentioned how schizophrenia seems to be an umbrella diagnosis covering a broad range of illnesses and symptoms.

In schziophrenics, it seems males with familial risk have far more negative symptoms than women do. It is possible that many female “schizophrenics” are diagnoses as bipolar, due to the minimal negative symptoms that are experienced compared to males with familial schizophrenia.

A lot of the symptoms of the illnesses I mentioned overlap. There needs to be a better diagnostic criteria for each of these illnesses.

Post # 12
Member
426 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@bunnyharriet:  Yes, unfortunately I don’t think the DSM-V will solve that issue.  Around here, bipolar is HUGELY overdiagnosed as well. 

Post # 13
Member
578 posts
Busy bee

I would talk to your OBGYN about your concerns, and perhaps she could refer you to a geneticist to fully answer your questions?? I think that is what I would do if I was in your shoes. it’s obviously a hugely important life decision. good luck girl! 

Post # 14
Member
750 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2014

@wildflowerbee:  +1

The internet has a wealth of information. Unfortunately, every source says something different, and it can be simultaneously devestating and hopeful, depending on what you read. I think it is important that you talk to a geneticist about your risk, and take it from there. A professional will be able to give you an accurate assessment about your risk, to your child and yourself. 

I can imagine that this is a very emotional issue for you…hugs.I hope that you are able to find the answers you need to make an informed decision you feel great about!!!!!!!!!

Post # 15
Member
1734 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

First of all, *HUGS.*

Second of all, there is just no way to know for 100% sure, hon. It’s not like Tay-Sachs where you can do genetic testing. It’s totally possible that the hormonal changes in your body and the stress of having a new infant could trigger some mental health issues for you. But that wouldn’t even have to be bipolar — it could be post-partum depression or an intensification of your anxiety condition. And it could be the start of a lifelong thing to deal with…or a temporary rough patch. Or all that stress could trigger mental health issues for your spouse! Or…. you all could be FINE. There’s just no way to have a guarantee.

My older half brother is bipolar too, and so my family has dealt with these issues through much of my childhood and adulthood. Ray of sunshine for you: he is now largely stable and has three kids of his own! So, combined with the right medication and counseling, it is possible to live a happy and productive life even with that diagnosis.

Ultimately, there is no way to know for sure. There is probably a slightly elevated risk that you and your potential child may have some sort of mental health issues. But it’s not a guarantee. The MOST IMPORTANT THING is that you are AWARE of the potential issues and so you and your spouse would know what to watch for, and could take advantage of the resources that are available in your community. This holds true lifelong, because even if you decide not to have kids or if you do and the pregnancy is fine — something like moving, losing or changing a job, a sick family member, etc etc, could all trigger something. (For ANYONE — not just you!)

Speaking of which — with your family’s mental health history, and your tendency towards anxiety, it sounds like it might not be a terrible idea at all for you to meet with a counselor to talk about some of this stuff! I saw one about two years ago when things were really stressful in my life (my mild anxiety was starting to manifest in sleep problems and some compulsive behaviors), and I found it really helpful to talk through the immediate issue and also different stuff from childhood. It’s really nice to know that I can go make an appointment if I need one.

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