Bipolar Research at IU

To learn more about active clinical research trials studying Mood Disorders including Bipolar Disorder, click here.


Institute of Psychiatric Research Bipolar Genetics Study

Welcome to the home page of the Collaborative Genomic Study of Bipolar Disorder at the Institute of Psychiatric Research of the Indiana University School of Medicine, located in Indianapolis, IN.

Manic-depressive illness, known in medical terms as bipolar disorder, is characterized by high and low mood states that generally last weeks or months. Available evidence suggests that not only is this a fairly common affliction, occurring in one to three percent of the general population, but that it runs in families. Close relatives of people suffering from bipolar illness are 3 to 6 times more likely to develop either depression or manic-depressive illness than the general population. Unlike major depression, which can occur at any age, manic-depressive illness generally begins before the age of 30. Manic episodes are characterized by euphoria, constant talkativeness or movement, grandiose thoughts, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, and reckless behavior. When severe mania sets in, thinking becomes disorganized and unrealistic. Behavior gets out of control, so that patients require hospitalization to protect both themselves and those around them.

Untreated, the manic phase can last as long as three months. As it abates, the patient may have a period of normal mood and behavior. But eventually the depressive phase of the illness will set in.  In some, depression occurs immediately or within the next few months.  With other patients there is a long interval before the next manic or depressive episode. Depressive episodes consist of feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, inability to concentrate, thoughts of death or suicide, change in appetite or weight, and fatigue or loss of energy.

Anyone who suspects they or a loved one suffers from manic-depressive illness should receive a complete medical evaluation to rule out any other mental or physical disorders.   Once diagnosed, bipolar disorder is a highly treatable condition. Management is primarily medical and consists of drugs such as lithium or Valproate. In addition to medical management, many affected patients will benefit from psychotherapy or counseling.

Description adapted from the Let’s Talk Facts About Manic –Depressive Bipolar Disorder Handout produced by the APA Joint Commission on Public Affairs and the Division of Public Affairs, 1992 American Psychiatric Association (Revised 1997).

This web site is designed to provide information on bipolar disorder, details about participating in our search for genes, online forms to sign up for our study, and links to other information that people with bipolar disorder, their relatives and friends may find useful in their own search for information and support.

"Now we recognize that Bipolar Disorder is a medical disorder.  It is similar to diabetes or hypertension or thyroid disease: it results from chemical abnormalities.  It can be treated with medication.  People who have this illness are just like everybody else when the mood disorder is controlled" —John Nurnberger, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.

"Despite impressive progress, two thirds of people with manic depression are not properly diagnosed or treated.  With accurate diagnosis, effective medication, and proper support, many people with manic depression can lead normal, productive, fulfilling lives." —NAMI pamphlet, "Understanding Manic Depression"

"The crime, if you will, is manic-depressive illness, a psychiatric disorder that affects at least 2 million Americans.  The suspects are genes.  The detectives are researchers at Indiana University Medical Center." —E.B. Schoch in The Indianapolis Star, November 23, 1997.

I.U. is collaborating in their quest with eleven other academic centers around the country.

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Last updated: April 29, 2008.