By On March 18th, 2014

Researchers Say Bipolar Disorder and Epilepsy May Be Linked

Evidence suggesting that bipolar disorder and epilepsy may be different expressions of common pathways continues to grow as a preliminary study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shows.

The study used a convenience sample of hospital visitors to see that epilepsy was significantly more common among first-degree relatives of patients with bipolar disorder than among control patients with no identified heightened risk. Likewise, the rate of bipolar disorder was significantly increased among relatives of epilepsy patients.

As study author Mohammed Jidda and co-workers explain, this implies “genetic or/and environmental relationships between the two disorders.”

The team asked 60 first-degree relatives of epilepsy patients to complete the Mood Disorder Questionnaire and found that 14.5 percent had bipolar disorder, compared to only 2.1 percent of 50 control hospital visitors who did not have a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder or epilepsy.

The researchers also saw that 15.2 percent of 40 first-degree relatives of bipolar disorder patients had epilepsy, as assessed by the International League Against Epilepsy criteria. The control group meanwhile only showed a 2.0 percent rate of epilepsy.

The researchers support their study and assert that it is in line with similar studies that have occurred recently, but they caution the research is intended to be thought of as only preliminary and did not account for many potentially confounding environmental factors and behaviors.

They conclude: “Large family studies of multiple first-degree relatives of bipolar disorder and epilepsy (prelude to twin or/and gene studies) should be conducted to confirm the etiological overlap between the two disorders, resulting from a shared genetic susceptibility.”

One Response

  1. jidda mohammed says:

    Many thanks for sharing our research findings. what actually informs our need to carry out this particular study is the observation that epilepsy and bipolar illness share similar patterns in terms of how they appear-the symptoms come and go; people become fully well in between episodes; medications used in management of epilepsy appears to be effective in treating bipolar patients.
    This finding is significant in the sense that it narrows significantly the search for potential phenotypes that may be utilized in the search for the genetic substrate for bipolar illness and epilepsy.
    phenotypes which these disorders share in a consistent manner may be a first pointer to finding a gene for these disorders.
    finding the genes we hope, can allow us predict who may have the disease (right from conception); early treatment/ prevention and improved outcome.
    in the next phase, we are looking to do a larger community based study to confirm our findings and to search for the potential phenotypes.

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