Douglas Blackwood and Walter Muir
The neurobiological basis of bipolar disorders and the complex interactions of environmental and inherited factors that create vulnerability to abnormal moods remain essentially unknown. However, several lines of research are providing important clues about the type of biological processes underlying moods and their disorders. The established approaches of neurochemistry and pharmacology that gave rise to the present generation of anti-depressant and mood-stabilising drugs have highlighted the importance of neurotransmitters and cell signalling pathways. Advances in neuroimaging techniques have identified several brain regions showing structural or functional changes in subjects with mood disorders, and cognitive deficits found in patients are in keeping with these imaging findings. It is also now firmly established that genetic factors have a major role in determining the risk of bipolar disorder, and recent developments in genomics and proteomics since the sequencing of the human and mouse genomes are now providing powerful new approaches to the study of these brain disorders. Genetic strategies can identify previously unknown genes as candidates for a role in mood disorders, and it is hoped that elucidating the novel neuro-chemical pathways and cellular processes in which these genes operate will give a fresh understanding of the biology of complex behaviours and moods.
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Bipolar is a condition that wreaks havoc on those that it affects. If you suffer from Bipolar, chances are that your family suffers right with you. No matter if you are that family member trying to learn to cope or you are the person that has been diagnosed, there is hope out there.