Why? Nature or nurture?

People will argue whether bipolar disorder is nurture or nature?   Well, maybe it is both.  Thinking about why is one key to understanding how not to be or at least how to control it.  So years ago I started doing research into the why of bipolar disorder and here is what I came up with:

Some disorders, such as tourettes, muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth, Pompe disease and others do not become apparent until the  late teenage years or early adulthood.  All of these disorders are genetic disorders.  So couldn’t bipolar disorder, and depression be genetic disorders that have an onset in late childhood or early adulthood?  When were you first diagnosed?  What age were you when you first new something was not right?  When did you realize what was going on in your head was not “normal”?  If you said anywhere between late teenage years or early adulthood you are not alone. The average age of onset is 21 to 25 years old.  For me, I was in my early twenties when I first heard the words “manic – depressive” now known as bipolar disorder.  So what if these mental disorders are just bad DNA coding?

As to genetic coding, maybe bipolar disorder is like sickle cell anemia.  Sickle cell occurs more commonly in people (or their descendants) where malaria is or was common. This “defect” in the cell shortens a life span but on the other hand if you are born with a single allele it may increase life span because you are almost immune to malaria.  So lets apply this concept to bipolar disorder.  You say there is no positive side to bipolar disorder?  I disagree.  I am going to go way out there for a minute, but stick with me here!  What if you are a hunter that live 1000’s of years ago.  You are sent out on a long hunt and to sleep would be your death.  So you adapt.  Your brain not only compensates for lack of sleep, but the extreme stress you are facing.  You become creative, daring, you take chances but it is all for the survival of you and your tribe. Mania! Once back home, after days perhaps longer of no sleep, your brain has to find a way to reverse what it has adapted to do in order for you, once again, to survive.  So you sleep.  Which may have evolved into depression.  This adaptation is now a “defect” that can shorten a life span but could have increased a lifespan 1000’s of years ago.

Here is another thought, perhaps bipolar, or depression are inheritable disorders. Like getting your Mom’s eyes or your Dad’s nose.  How many people in your immediate family have a mental disorder?  I can tell you, for myself, it is quite a few.  Perhaps we were all born this way.

Or not.  Maybe the passing down of a mental disorder is all about nurturing.  I mean if your Mom or Dad suffers from bipolar disorder, and their Mom or Dad suffers from depression, and your Grandmother or Grandfather suffers from either one, wouldn’t it makes sense that each generation teaches the next. Perhaps they do not have the life skills to teach the next generation life skills and so on.  Perhaps you or I were taught inappropriate ways of handling stress or not taught a way to handle it at all.

Or lastly, maybe it is a combination of nature and nurture.

So now that all the maybes of why have been covered, lets move one to what steps should be taken before you make the choice to be medication free.

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