Cause and Effect Paper The Rise in Bipolar Illness

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Causeand Effect Paper: The Rise in Bipolar Illness

Causeand Effect Paper: The Rise in Bipolar Illness

Therise in the prevalence of mental disorders is an issue of concern forthe stakeholders, especially in the health care sector. Bipolardisorder is among the most common types of disorders that affectpeople, irrespective of their cultural or social backgrounds. Thebipolar disorder refers to a mental condition that is characterizedby alternating periods of depression and elation (Robert &ampKalivas, 2013). During manic, the patient feels quite confident andexcited. In addition, a patient who is in this period tends to behavein impulsive ways and make reckless decisions. During the depressiveperiod, hypomania, patient feels sad. Bipolar is diagnosed when anindividual spends more time in the depressive period than thehypomania. This paper will provide a discussion of the cause andeffect of the exponential rise in the prevalence of the bipolardisorder. Although there are many factors that are suspected to causethe rise in cases of bipolar, this cause-effect paper will narrowdown to the most popular one, which is the genetic variation. Thedifficulty of treating and the heritability of the genetic variationsthat cause bipolar disorder cause the rise in the prevalence of thedisease.

Descriptionof the Issue

Theexponential increase in the prevalence of the bipolar disorder isquite alarming. Bipolar is classified as one of the most common typesof mental illnesses in the modern world. Statistics show that theprevalence of bipolar disorder in the U.S. is about 2.6 % compared tothe global rate that ranges between 0.5 % and 1 % (Depression andBipolar Support Alliance, 2016). This prevalence rate suggests thatabout 5.7 million Americans aged above 18 years are affected by thistype of mental illness. In most cases, the disorder is discovered atthe age of about 25 years, but there are instances when its onset isdetected at 50s. About 82.9 % of the cases that are diagnosed everyyear are classified as severe mental illnesses (DBSA, 2016). Thisdata implies that about 2.2 million of all American adults areaffected by severe cases of the bipolar disorder.

Apartfrom the alarming statistics on the prevalence of the bipolardisorder, the rate at which the mental illness has been increases hasmade it an issue of concern for the stakeholders. Trends indicatethat the prevalence of the disorder has increased at an extraordinaryrate within the last two decades. The results of a study conducted bya credible organization known as the International ChiropracticPediatric Association indicated that the prevalence of the bipolardisorder has been increasing at the rate of about 4,000 % in everyone decade (Breeding &amp Philo, 2011). The statistics explains thereason behind the high number (12 million) of young people, who havebeen put on psychiatric drugs in the United States. These statisticsare consistent with the findings reported by WHO (2016) indicatingthat the number of people living with the bipolar disorder globallyhad reached 60 million by the beginning of the year 2016. Therefore,the frightening rise in the rate of prevalence of the bipolar mentalillness makes it necessary to study its cause and effects.

Causeof the Rise in the Prevalence of the Bipolar Disorder

Afew scholars have argued that the risk of suffering from the bipolarcan be caused by psychological, neurochemical, environmental, andneurological factors. However, most of the empirical studies indicatethat the rise in the cases of bipolar can be attributed to heritablegenetic defects. There are several chromosomal regions that have beenassociated with the occurrence of the bipolar disorder, where eachone of them contributes to moderate or mild impact on the mentalstatus of the affected person. A study conducted by Robert &ampKalivas (2013) indicated that the single nucleotide polymorphismcauses variations in several genes, including CACNB2, NCAN, CACNA1C,and ODZ4. These variations are responsible for the occurrence of thebipolar disorder. The risk of suffering from bipolar is aboutten-fold higher among the people with the aforementioned geneticdefects compared to the population of persons without any defect.

Thefact that genetic variations can be directly associated to the riskof occurrence of the bipolar mental illness suggests that thesedefects can be passed on to the offspring. The possibility of thedefects being inherited indicates that there is a high probability ofthe disorder running in families. Paternal variations are stronglyassociated with the inheritance of the bipolar mental illness, whichsuggests that new cases of mutations play an insignificant role inthe rise of this medical condition in the modern world (Robert &ampKalivas, 2013). The theory of genetic variation as the cause of therise in the prevalence of the bipolar has been confirmed bystatistics showing that hereditary defects account for approximately60-80 % of all incidents of the disorder (Robert &amp Kalivas,2013). A similar study indicated that 90 % of those who are diagnosedwith the bipolar each year have at least one relative who have beenfound with the same disorder (Marohn, 2011). Similarly, about 15-30 %of the children of the parents with the bipolar are at the high riskof developing the disorder at different developmental stages (DBSA,2016).

Thesefindings suggest that the high probability of the bipolar beingpassed on to the offspring has caused the rise in the prevalencerate. The genetic defects are difficult to correct throughmedication, which results in the increase in the number of personsliving with the disorder (Robert &amp Kalivas, 2013). Other allegedcauses (including psychological, neurochemical, environmental, andneurological factors) play the role of facilitating the expression ofgenes that are already damaged. Therefore, the rise in the prevalenceof the bipolar disorder is mainly due to heritable genetic defects.


Theimpacts of the bipolar disorder that are linked to the genetic defectcan be classified into psychological, social, and economic effects.Bipolar is classified as one of the most common types of mooddisorder because of the psychological effects that it has onpatients. The mood of the patients swings from mania (the highs) tohypomania (the lows) (Robert &amp Kalivas, 2013). The severity withwhich the psychological effects manifest depends on the extent of thegenetic variations (Robert &amp Kalivas, 2013). Individuals whoinherit minor variations express mild psychological effects comparedto those suffering from severe genetic defects. The psychologicaleffects that occur during mania and hypomania are indicated byseveral symptoms, including the visual hallucination, obsessiveworried feelings, racing thoughts, and paranoia.

Secondly,the rise in the prevalence of persons living with the bipolardisorder has increased the number of people with social challenges.The disorder is characterized by the lack of ability to controlemotions, unreasonable cry-spells, trouble breathing, persistentlethargy, and poor health in general (Robert &amp Kalivas, 2013). Acombination of these symptoms makes the affected persons develop aperception that they are disadvantaged compared to their peers.Consequently, they withdraw from their peers. Therefore, a decisionto avoid social events, which is common among the bipolar patients,can be attributed to genetic defects that limit their capacity toprocess information, create positive perceptions, and control theiremotions. In severe cases, patients develop antisocial personalityand they may end up committing suicide. It is estimated that between25 % and 50 % of the patients attempt suicide while approximately 11% succeed in eliminating themselves as a result of their inability tocontrol their thoughts, socialize with others, and regulate theiremotions (Tracy, 2016).

Third,the rise in the cases of bipolar disorder as a result of heritablegenetic variation causes negative economic impacts to the patientsand relatives. Economic impacts can be associated with differentfacts, including the decline in the level of productivity of theaffected persons and the high cost of treating the disorder.According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) bipolaris the most expensive type of behavioral disorder to treat. Patientswith the disorder incur about $ 568 out of pocket expenses each year,which is estimated to be approximately twice the average amount spentby patients with other types of medical problems (CDC, 2016). About $1.8 of the total amount allocated for the treatment of bipolar isspent on inpatient services, which is an indication of the high costof treating severe cases (CDC, 2016).

Theexponential rise in the prevalence of this mental illness indicatesthat the disorder will continue causing a significant financial lossto the society, patients, and their relatives. The high cost oftreating the disorder is attributed to the fact that there is noeffective medication that can correct genetic variations and help thepatients recover completely. For example, the effectiveness oflithium was expected to cure up to 85 % of the cases of bipolar, butit could only minimize symptoms in 40 % of the patients (DBSA, 2016).Therefore, most of the available mechanisms facilitate themanagement, instead of the treatment of disorders.

Evaluationof the Association between the Cause and the Effects

Mostof the social and psychological effects seen in patients with bipolarare attributed to variations in a gene referred to as CACNA1C.Variations in this gene limit the functionality of the braincircuitry that is responsible for thinking, emotional expression,memory, and attention (Asher, 2013). Defects that take place inanother gene known as CACNB2 limit the calcium-channel signalingfunction, which results in psychopathological problems (Asher, 2013).Variations in CACNB2 are responsible for the psychological as well asthe social effects of the bipolar disorder.

Theoccurrence of genetic defects in more than one type of genedetermines the severity of the social, psychological, and economiceffects of the bipolar disorder. Alterations of the genomes result inthe symptoms that are considered during the diagnosis of the bipolardisorder. The difficulty of rectifying the genetic defects, coupledwith the fact that variations can be transferred to the subsequentgenerations contributes towards the rise in the prevalence of thebipolar disorder.


Therise in the prevalence of the bipolar disorder is caused by geneticvariations that are heritable. These genetic variations result inseveral effects that can be classified into social, psychological,and economic impacts. The passage of defective genes to offspringincreases the population of persons living with the bipolar disorder.Most of the social and psychological effects of the rise in thebipolar disorder are caused by defects that touch on the genes thatare responsible for the regulation of thinking, emotional expression,memory, and attention. The most common types of genetic variationsthat cause the two categories of effects occur in CACNB2 and CACNA1Cgenes. The high economic burden associated with the disorder isattributed to the difficulty of correcting genetic defects and thecost of managing its symptoms. Therefore, the rise in the number ofcases of bipolar disorder is caused by the occurrence of heritablegenetic damage that results in psychological, economic, and socialeffects.


Asher,J. (2013). Five major mental disorders share genetic roots. NationalInstitute of Mental Health.Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Breeding,J. &amp Philo, A. (2011). The pill merchants: The relentless andtragic marketing of psychiatric drugs. InternationalChiropractic Pediatric Association.Retrieved October 6, 2010, from

Centerfor Disease Control and Prevention (2016). Burden of mental illness.CDC.Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

Depressionand Bipolar Support Alliance (2016). Bipolar disorder statistics.Chicago: DBSA.

Marohn,S. (2011). Thenatural medicine guide: Bipolar disorder.Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.

Robert,M. &amp Kalivas, P. (2013). Bipolar disorder and substance misuse:Pathological and therapeutic implications of their comorbidity andcross-sensitization. TheBritish Journal of Psychiatry,202 (3), 172-176.

Tracy,N. (2016). Effects of bipolar disorder. America’sMental Health Channel.Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

WHO(2016). Mental disorders. WHO.Retrieved October 6, 2016, from

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