January 19, 2005

Links between Bipolar, Schizophrenia

Read more... Schizophrenia Biology

Despite the fact that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have different diagnostic credentials in the bible of American psychiatric medicine (the DSM-IV), the two disorders show a significant overlap of symptoms, as well as some similar treatment strategies. Now, scientists are discovering some of the key biological similarities that may link these diseases even more strongly.

For example, Dr. Amy Arnsten at Yale University Medical School has found what she calls a "molecular trigger" for both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This trigger appears to be stress, which can over-activate a brain protein called protein kinase C (PKC) in the prefrontal cortex. Dr. Arnsten points out that increased PKC activity (noted in the brains of people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) can lead to some of the common symptoms of the two disorders, such as distractibility, impulsivity, poor judgment, and hallucinations. Moreover, medications for schizophrenian and bipolar disorder often decrease PKC activity.

More evidence is coming in from the field of genetics. Dr. James Potash of Johns Hopkins University Medical School says that "schizophrenia and bipolar disorder [appear to] share at least a few genetic roots." He gives the example of research that traces genes suspected as important to both disorders to the same region of chromosome 13.

In other fields, researchers like Dr. E. Fuller Torrey are examining the role that infections play in the development of both diseases. Torrey notes that antibody response to some infectious agents are elevated in people with schizophrenia, and also people with bipolar disorder.

The ramifications of such findings are many. One consequence may be a restructuring of diagnostic categories; for example, some medical experts are discussing whether people who experience psychosis along with the symptoms of bipolar disorder should be diagnosed under schizophrenia spectrum disorders rather than with mood disorders. Similarities in underlying biological pathology may also lead to new treatments that will be effective for both disorders. Finally, further understanding of these links provides even more evidence that psychiatric illnesses are diseases of the brain, just like diabetes is a disease of the pancreas and hepatitis is a disease of the liver.

Read more about research that shows schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are diseases of the brain:

1. Schizophrenia is a disease of the brain
2. Bipolar Disorder is a disease of the brain

Read about the link between stress and schizophrenia risk

For the original news story, see: "Stress May Link Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia" (Jan 16 2005). Available online at http://www.sun-sentinel.com


I think i am bipolar. What should i do?

Posted by: Kandace at April 6, 2006 12:01 PM

I think that you should self-evaluate yourself with a list of symptoms, and then go talk to a therapist or a private practice psychiatrist about it. By the way, I'm bipolar and i was wondering if schizophrenia and bipolar overlap?

Posted by: Natalie at April 8, 2006 06:34 PM

I lived with a bipolar women and she has a first cousin that is schizophrenic. Also her mother and her cousin's mother where bipolar, masked by alcoholism. This women was over the top with her malaise, her therapist did nothing for her for years.

Posted by: john bocchetti at April 16, 2006 10:51 AM

Dfuring the course of a lifetime I have had the most wonderful friends and experience with people who are bipolar, it is remarkable. Those who burn bright deserve treatment, even if they often don't treat the illness, they should be honestly encouraged by family and friends.

Posted by: john bocchetti at August 11, 2006 09:23 AM

my doctor said that schizophrenia and d.i.d syndrome are related to bipolar disorder i was wondering what the chances are of me developing either one of these diseases beings im bipolar.

Posted by: cassandra at November 26, 2006 09:30 AM

I would like to know how do you help your schizophrenic husband to go for help if he refuses to go and is above the denial stage already, due to addiction to drugs and alcohol which damaged most of his brain cells already and on top of it all we are going through a traumatic divorce involving 3kids who have to still suffer because of all of this.

Posted by: crystal lekay at November 28, 2006 12:59 AM

Impulsivity, poor judgement, promiscuity and denying that anything is wrong, hallmarks of cyclothymia/bipolar. Often eating disorders, compulsions either sexual or religious are found comorbid in this axis. The general populations is inhabited by more than clinicians admit. Is there the possibility it's on the rise. When early onset bipolar or cyclothymia appear for no reason other than genetic factors, unlike late onset. Untreated cyclothymia is really nasty and can develop into full blown bipolar.

Posted by: john bocchetti at December 27, 2006 11:14 AM

Regarding the lady with children going through a divorce: My wife's therapist told me to leave her and take the children. She would never be any better. Thirty Three years later she is proven correct. Eventually she got so bad that she had to be placed in a home. Still in denial & resists meds.

Posted by: bcoil at July 16, 2007 10:48 AM

Social dysfunction on the rise? I read most of the DSM 1V manual, bipolar when undiagnosed or non-treatment forms the basis of a therapist's role, should that therapist lose the ability to continue their practise? Certainly if a therapist is unable or unwilling to diagnose then their must be consequences. One reason that the bipolar issue is on the rise, under or non treatment by therapists.

Posted by: john bocchetti at July 22, 2007 10:47 AM

oh come on you are seriously not thinking that bipolar is really on the rise??? I have long said that (the new craze) is psychiatrist's way of keeping a job. There is a brain scan/test you can have for ADHD now...in Arkansas or California. Ok, so if you're not ADHD then you MUST be bipolar. Um, hell yes, whether it's you being bipolar or ADHD that will keep my appointment book full. When will you people stop listening to doctors and stop looking for a label for you or your relative??? It is truly disgusting...And oh yes! For those of you who actually are bipolar/adhd...yeah, only the top 1% of people (geniouses) are bipolar, so that rules out the rest of everyone....and don't kid yourself by thinking underperformace at school at a young age excuses you from genious. Obviously ADHD at a younger age is mistaken for bipolar; they actually expect us to suffer through the boring classes others can barely comprehend?? The others who act out are just little brats who need discipline. And maybe I needed discipline, too. Well, there's no amount of discipline for a bored, ADHD, bipolar girl. And there I go labeling again...forced to because that's all you people understand--the steriotypical individuals you chose to single out because they don't conform. What's wrong with that? Ah, it's refreshing. 1.) If you are a little sh*t and refuse to behave, you are not ADHD.
2.) If you are a little sh*t and refuse to behave, you are not bipolar.
3.) There is no amount of shaking that could possibly occur to shake some dam* sense into you people who want to lable yourselves or a "loved one"...and if you're so hard-headed, why isn't your child/loved one allowed to be? Oh wait I forgot...they're bipolar/adhd, right???

Posted by: Jen at August 22, 2007 03:20 AM

I am compiling a book of inspirational stories about the experiences of people with Bipolar and/or Schizophrenia. My mother Julie, has lived with Schizoaffective disorder (features of both Bipolar and Schizophrenia) throughout her life and has now made the decision to take charge of her healing. She is no longer defined by her illness and seeks to transcend her challenges. I wish to share her story, and the story of others. I ask those of you with an uplifting story to share, to email them to me for inclusion in this book as a message of love, hope, peace and joy. Any proceeds from this book will be donated to a support organisation (open to suggestions!). Please contact me at http://bipolar-author.blogspot.com

Posted by: Sonya at May 9, 2008 04:11 PM

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