The Biologic Basis of Bipolar Disorder:
Five mini-chapters on the brain chemistry of mania and depression
(revised 8/2008)

1.  The genetic basis of bipolar disorder

2.  Brain differences

3.  The central role of the biological clock [updated 8/2008]

4.  The biological basis of depression

5.  Big picture -- there must be some evolutionary advantage?

The biologic basis of depression is described in a separate section on this website.  It is a rather long story.  Over time, this story about bipolar disorder will likely become longer as well.  I will try to keep this page updated with new findings.

As of 2008, treatment of bipolar disorder is roughly equivalent to when diabetes was treated without insulin.  We do not know the fundamental cause and cannot therefore target our treatments accordingly.

However, our understanding is growing very quickly.  I used to hope that a Nobel prize would be awarded someday to someone who made the key discovery.  But it now appears that the tapestry of manic symptoms is extremely complex.  Many threads have been identified, and they are just beginning to come together.  This is a very exciting time in the history of bipolar understanding. Even if no single researcher wins a Nobel, major breakthroughs seem likely within the next 5-10 years.