Bipolar - Schizophrenia may not be distinct illnesses

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia: distinct illnesses or a continuum?
Möller HJ.
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Bipolar disorder continues to present complex diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Originally considered 2 separate diseases (mania and depression), bipolar disorder is now recognized to be a single disorder characterized by different subtypes and degrees of severity. Despite the availability of official guidelines, such as the DSM-IV and ICD-10, diagnosis is still problematic. Traditionally, bipolar disorder has been considered a clinical entity distinct from schizophrenia, although that assumption is being increasingly challenged. Proponents of a bipolar continuum theory support the concept of an expanded psychiatric continuum ranging from unipolar to bipolar disorders all the way to schizophrenia. This notion is supported by various independent findings. Both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia demonstrate a high degree of genetic transmissibility. Some data reported in family and twin studies suggest hereditary overlap between the 2 disorders. Gene mapping for both diseases is in its early stages, but certain susceptibility markers appear to be located on the same chromosomes. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia also demonstrate some similarities in neurotransmitter dysfunction. As further indirect evidence of a possible association, many newer atypical antipsychotic agents approved for the treatment of schizophrenia are also proving useful for bipolar disorder. Ongoing research should aid in the understanding of bipolar disorder and foster the development of more effective treatment.


As I’ve been reading up on Bipolar for my youngest brother I’ve been a little surprised at how some of the same meds work, how some of the same problem arise, how there are a lot of similarities between what I have faced and what my youngest brother has said he’s going through.

Very interesting and timely article.

Thank you for posting this. It’s very helpful.


It’s true how there is a link between Bipolar and SZ, I see it in my own family. My sister and niece both have Bipolar and I have SZ, and we share a few symptoms in common.

This is a great article. I have a sis that is bipolar, a cousin and dad with borderline personality disorder, and my son with sz. Wondering also why I don`t hear anything about lithium anymore. My sis took it for a long time and it worked. The doc took her off that and now she takes zyprexa when she feels she needs it.

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