Bipolar Disorder Gene Detection Depends on Families

The staff of the Bipolar Disorder Genetics Project invites families with two or more siblings who have experienced bipolar disorder to join our study. Parents also are asked to participate.

WHY STUDY FAMILIES?

Earlier studies suggest that an inborn tendency to develop bipolar disorder runs in some families. However, most relatives will never develop the illness.

In our family studies we look for the genes which may be causing some family members to be at risk for bipolar disorder. As we discover the nature of each gene, we will be able to develop better treatments.

We urge individuals suffering from bipolar disorder, along with their family members, to participate in a scientific study which will help us better understand the causes of this disorder.

WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER?

Bipolar disorder (also called manic-depressive illness) is a mental illness involving episodes of serious mania and depression. The person's mood usually swings from overly "high" or irritable to sad and hopeless and then back again. There may be periods of normal mood in between. Family members of people with bipolar disorder often have to cope with serious behavioral problems.

WHY SHOULD I PARTICIPATE IN A FAMILY/GENETIC STUDY?

Many persons who suffer from bipolar disorder, or who have a close relative with the disorder, have already brought their families into the study. The reason most often given is, "If I can help prevent this from happening to anyone else, I'll do anything." These families share our hope that finding genetic markers and genes that increase risk for this disorder will help medical researchers understand more about its biological basis. As a result, we will be able to develop more effective medications.

You are an essential part of this research. Without the help of people like you and your family, no study of inherited traits could be done and little progress would be made. We depend on your participation.

HOW DOES A FAMILY GET INTO THE STUDY?

Usually someone who suffers from the disorder, or a close relative, calls or writes to us. We do an initial screening and inquire about the minimum of two living siblings with bipolar disorder. We ask permission to write a letter to relatives, explaining the program and inviting their participation. Those who accept send back a form noting the best time for us to call.

Participants contribute in two ways:

SCHEDULING AN INTERVIEW

Scheduling is done to best suit the family member. Most of the work is done by telephone. Weekend and evening appointments are available for those who need them. No travel is needed.

ABOUT THE INTERVIEW

ABOUT THE BLOOD SAMPLE

CONFIDENTIALITY

All of the information obtained in the Family/Genetic Study will remain completely confidential, even among family members. When research papers are published, no names or other identifying information about individual participants will appear.