Case Study: Bipolar Disorder

Case Study: Bipolar Disorder
Description of the possible biological causes of mental illness
Genetic Etiology
It increases the risk of acquiring mental illness, particularly bipolar disorders. It is greatly
associated with becoming a first degree relative of an individual with bipolar disorders
(Pavuluri, Nadimpalli, O’Connor, & Sweeney, 2006).
Medical Illnesses
Cardiac diseases and seizure disorders have a great correlation with increased
susceptibility of having bipolar disorder among adults. Viral infections among
immunosuppressed individuals also contribute to bipolar diathesis (Paluvuri, et al., 2006).
Brain Trauma - Consequent brain affectation (specifically to the prefrontal cortex, limbic
system, and paralimbic structures) following a head injury that results to mood disorders
among adults (Paluvuri, 2006).
Gamma-amino-butyric-acid (GABA)
Ergic system, glutamatergic system, polyamine system also have great implications on
the occurrence of psychiatric disorders (Fiori & Turecki, 2010).
Neurotransmitters
An imbalance or non-regulation of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine causes
symptoms of depression (Johnson, Joormann, LeMoult, & Miller, 2008).
Identification and brief discussion of the function of the neurotransmitters in depression
 The major neurotransmitters affected during episodes of depression are serotonin and
catecholamines, particularly norepinephrine and dopamine.
 Different paradigms suggest that a deficiency in serotonin leads to mood disorders and
bipolar disorders. Johnson et al. (2008) stated that serotonin plays a major role in the
CASE STUDY: BIPOLAR DISORDER 3
biological pathway of mood disorders. This neurotransmitter hinders the automatic
response of the body to emotional stimuli. If serotonin becomes deficient, cognition in
response to external stimuli will shift and will lead to a negative emotional control.
 Dopamine also plays a critical role in depression, especially those who have Parkinson’s
disease (PD). Knowing that the dopaminergic system is responsible for the motivation,
motor and reward functions, an imbalance in this system would likely result to
psychomotor disturbances and lack of pleasure (anhedonia) that is commonly observed
among depressive patients (Dishman, Washburn, & Heath, 2004).
 Norepinephrine, on the other hand, is found to be responsible for the effectiveness of
antidepressants. Together with serotonin, an imbalance in norepinephrine is said to be
responsible for the symptoms of sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, and weight loss
(Lovallo, 2005 


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