Over the course of the last 2 years a vast understanding of the 4 primary mental disorders had come to light, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Autism and Chronic Depression. Through genetic understanding these 4 stand apart as true biological genetically passed to the next generation mental illness. But wait; there is a DSM full of other mental illnesses. True and I do not in any way diminish them, but thus far they are all environmentally contracted. For example, due to my past I carry a few other distinctions after my name; CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder); BPD; and DID, but I question the DID, hey I would not have the label if I did not question at least one of them. The CPTSD is a result of the environment I was raised in, it was not passed to me genetically, the BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) again a gift from my childhood environment and lastly the DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), once more my childhood. So what of SAD, commonly referred to as the winter blahs or cabin fever. No those names do not lessen SAD; but it is caused by a shift in environment, or GAD; fact is everyone in the world faces anxiety, some handle it better than others but it is still a result of environment. Then we have panic disorders, an environmental perception based on an unreal event that may or may not happen. My point; in the last 2 years a major understanding has taken place in the universe of mental illness; there are 4 genetic mental illnesses and the rest are due to environment. Nothing related to a dipstick in the brain to check the levels of chemicals and then get the old pill bottle and fill up on a drug to level off the chemical. In short the meta-analysis continues to point in one direction and one only, mental illness is genetic and NOT chemical and the rest is this world’s environment.
So back to the breakthrough on bipolar (remember think only what we know as bipolar 1). In 2014 a team in PA discovered a genetic mutation in KCNH7 found only in bipolar persons. So what goes wrong? Around our cells is a membrane, this membrane is supposed to allow certain proteins to pass through to allow those cells to function properly. In persons with bipolar the above genetic mutation does not allow for the absorption of potassium. Potassium is key to regulation of emotions and cognition functioning. So suppose a signal carrying a certain emotion is passed from one brain cell to another, the blocking of potassium would scatter the ‘information’ at the cell wall of the receiving cell. Therefore only a little of the information gets through which means erratic behavior. (I have simplified the explanation without altering it)
This gets better. Since it has now been established that bipolar has a genetic marker it can now be detected with a simple blood test. The test can be administered while the child is still in development in the womb.
Implications: this changes the whole field of bipolar. It has been suggested that the next DSM will drop bipolar 2 altogether. Since depression has fallen into the 4; depression like Autism may be a spectrum illness. To explain: I have bipolar 1 with psychotic episodes. Because of the latter some doctors wanted to diagnose me with Schizophrenia; but not everything fit the bill. I was diagnosed at a time similar to what we are faced with now. The medical world in the 1990’s was starting to understand that bipolar people could also have psychotic episodes. I am thankful I had doctors that at that time accepted the changes in the direction of the field of mental illness. Today we are at a similar crossroads.
So depression could be ‘Spectrum Depression Disorder’? Since depression seems to take on many forms and colors and it is truly one of the 4, it may be a spectrum instead of one size fits all.
I intend to present my doctor with the article and ask for the blood test.
Other changes that could come about? Funding; it is such a tragic waste of money to continue to look at psychological medications currently on the market to treat bipolar. In study after study for over 25 years not one of these medications can treat bipolar. And not one person can step forward and testify they are better than before taking the medication. And the proof is in the genes. The very fact that bipolar is on a gene that none of the medications touch is proof in of itself. SSRI’s make bipolar far worse, if you give someone a mood stabilizer you have to give them an antidepressant, but then if they go to high something to lower that, then what about the psychotic episodes. Get my point! Doctors (who truly care) realize trying to adjust bipolar people on a lot of meds know it is a time and life waster. With the proof of genetics on the table will doctors stop destroying the lives of bipolar people with what amounts to doping them up? Doubtful Most doctors can’t see the iceberg; they have to hit it first. Then there are the drug companies, this finding will kill their sells, if doctors care for the people they treat enough to start reversing their medications.
What’s the current answer? The data shows beyond any doubt it is not the current drugs on the market; that brain damaging practice needs to stop. It does help explain why lithium works, attaching to ion’s it can create openings in the cell membrane. (A side not; if you have been given the diagnoses of bipolar and you will swear the current medications are working for you then you may not have bipolar. It’s simple logic, with the discovery of this genetic marker; the current drugs do not target this marker. So if they are helping you than it is more likely you have been misdiagnosed.)
I do hope the drug companies will switch their research into that line of reasoning and look at how to allow potassium to cross that membrane. Since now a blood test can be administered before birth parents can prepare, they have about 20 years before bipolar takes hold. Avoid giving kids testing positive anything artificial, no soda’s, no junk, no smoking for them or their environment, give them a chance. Then and hopefully soon a drug that works on the gene KCNH7 will hit the market and people with bipolar may be able to be viewed as normal. I used that phrase because I am told at least once a day “you’re not normal”.