Children born to parents who are victims of bipolar disorder are abnormally sensitive to stress hormone cortisol, reveals a Concordia study.
The stress hormone cortisol has an important role to play in bipolar disorder and children born to parents with the condition must learn to keep their stress levels in control.
Senior author Mark Ellenbogen, said, "Previous research has shown that children of parents with bipolar disorder are four times as likely to develop mood disorders as those from parents without the condition. The goal of our study was to determine how this is happening."
Earlier studies have shown that cortisol levels in children whose parents are victims of the condition are higher compared to children whose parents did not suffer the condition.
"Our study demonstrates that affected children are biologically more sensitive to the experience of stress in their natural and normal environment compared to unaffected peers. This higher reactivity to stress might be one explanation of why these offspring end up developing disorders and is a clear risk factor to becoming ill later on," Mark Ellenbogen said.
Researchers advice that such children must be taught during their childhood to cope with stress and deal with problems so that they are better equipped to handle bigger stressors later on in life.