It’s all about Dopamine!

On 8. May 2017 by Peter 'ADDSpeaker' Vang

ADHD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are psychiatric illnesses with a strong genetic component which share dopaminergic alterations. Dopamine transporter (DAT) genetics might be potentially implicated in all these disorders.

ADHD, Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

“ADHD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are psychiatric diseases with a strong genetic component which share dopaminergic alterations. Dopamine transporter (DAT) genetics might be potentially implicated in all these disorders.”
– (Mereu et al. 2017 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28454982)

[ADDspeaker: ADHD is NOT a disease, but an illness you are born with and which you will die with, and ADHD is present from birth. Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder are also NOT diseases, but illnesses which normally present itself in adolescents]

What does ADHD, Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder have in common?

Note: From here on I will use the abbreviations AD for ADHD, SZ for Schizophrenia and BD for Bipolar Disorder.

They all express themselves through external behaviour, internal emotional state and mood, for once, but;

AD impairs the inhibitory and emotional self-regulatory systems, SZ impairs internal vs. external sensory representation and BD expresses itself through cycles of elation and depression (or even as a chronic state of [less than] major depression).
All impairs social interaction, either by external interaction like mood or behaviour (AD, BD) or by internal interaction (fear, hallucination, voices) (SZ).
They’re all connected to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine, but in very different ways. AD causes the brain to produces too little dopamine, SZ causes the brain to produce too much dopamine, whereas BD causes inconsistent levels of dopamine, either too high (mania) or too low (depression).
All are genetically inheritable, ADHD has 70-80% risk of inheritance, SZ shows 10% risk in families where SZ is present already and BD shows a 10-20% risk in families were BD is present already.

What is the ‘Root Cause’ of these illnesses?

Well, actually nobody really knows yet, but all recent studies are looking for the specific genes that seems to be a the root of these illnesses. One thing that I notice, is that they are all interdependent on Dopamine and that they are all related to incorrect levels of production of Dopamine. This explains why Amphetamines work for AD, but not for SZ and BD, where Amphetamines are known to have created psychosis when wrongly prescribed. SZ needs anti-psychotic medication and BD needs anti-depressive medication or mood stabilisers like Lithium or Ability.

My theory is that they are all linked to the same genes, but what sets them apart are the various neurobiological conditions during pregnancy, e.g. smoking or drinking, but also external source of contamination, like heavy metals. What decides which ‘route’ to take, is based on the hereditary risk of each illness, which again can be read in the prevalence of each illness (AD: 5-7%, SZ: 1-2% and BD: 4-5%, of the general population). Also it is relevant to mention that both Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD) and Tourette’s (TICS) are more common in people with ADHD, than the non-ADHD population, as in that ‘if you have ADHD, your risk for having co-morbid BD, ASD, TICS, Anxiety or Depression, is greatly increased’.

What does the future hold in store?

It is going to be exciting to follow the scientific results of all the many genetic studies that are currently being conducted, and my gut tells me, that within 5-10 years, we will have the genetics locked down and can begin to examine gene-therapy for these illness, which may be available for the coming generation.


/Peter ‘ADDspeaker’ Vang

For more insight on this topic, here are links to the source material for this article:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia-booklet/index.shtml

https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-genetics-of-adhd/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161207091312.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28454982

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