No single cause may ever be found for bipolar disorder. Instead, a combination of biologic, genetic, and environmental factors appears to trigger and perpetuate the chemical imbalances in the brain that shape this complex disorder. Biologic factors observed or considered in bipolar disorder, as detected by use of imaging scans and other tests, include:
The so-called biologic clock is a tiny cluster of nerves called the supra chiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. The SCN is located in the center of the brain in the hypothalamus region. It regulates a person's circadian rhythm, the daily cycle of life, which influences sleeping and waking.
The genetics of bipolar disorder are the most intensively studied of all psychiatric diseases. Multiple genes, involving several chromosomes, have been linked to its development. Bipolar disorder also may share these genetic factors with other disorders, including schizophrenia, epilepsy, and panic disorder. It is not clear if some of these disorders are variations of a single disease or separate disorders.
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