Anyone can develop bipolar, but certain groups are more susceptible to it than others. For example, if either of your parents or grandparents exhibited bipolar disorder symptoms, you have a significant higher chance of getting it than those whose parents and grandparents are free of it. The same is true if you have a brother or sister with the disease. In fact, heredity is the biggest predictor of someone developing the disease.
Another predictor is age. Most of the time, this illness strikes someone in their late teens. Therefore, pre-teens and older adults, as a group, have a much less chance of getting it.
And finally, the presence of any other brain disease or disorder in the family, increases your odds of developing the disease. So, if your family has a history of anxiety disorders, for example, even though it is not a bipolar disease, the statistics say that your odds of getting bipolar have increased. Once someone does get it, barring unusual cures or remissions, the disease lasts a lifetime.
On rare occasions, the illness will strike young kids. When it does, it is referred to as early-onset bipolar disorder. This is meant to distinguish it from the more prevalent adult version of bipolar disorder. The symptoms in both adults and children are mostly the same. The distinction is mainly that children feel the effects more sharply than adults.
The frequency of mood switches also is greater in children than adults. These two facts, together, means that a child with bipolar disorder will experience the disease at a much higher level than an adult would.
Scientists and researchers have been studying bipolar-disorder for years in an effort to determine the causes of the illness. And, until recently, aside from the fact that it was genetically based, they could not identify any particular reason why one person might get the disease and another would not.
And then, largely due to the human genome project, two genes were identified as the predictors of who stood the best likelihood of developing the disease. The two genes, ANK3 and CACNA1C are now the subject of much study as scientist rush to develop cures and treatments for bipolar disease based on these new facts.
Studies are also under way to determine if these genes can be turned off, thus preventing someone from ever getting the disease. But don't expect cures to appear in the next one or two years. Scientist have just begun to crack the code. But when they do, the many thousands of children suffering from this disease will be able to begin life anew.