Researchers also were able to tie the traits to specific chromosomes, providing important clues to the genetic nature of the disorder, as well as potential new avenues for prevention and treatment.
    
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness causes dramatic mood shifts – often called episodes – in which the person is overly excited, extremely sad or depressed, or a mixed state of both, including irritable or explosive behaviour, according to the US National Institute of Mental
Health.
    
Causes of bipolar disorder (BP) are thought to be both genetic and environmental, and researchers have long suspected that disruption in normal daily circadian rhythms, including sleep and wake cycles, can precede mood shifts.
    
Those with bipolar disorder awoke later and slept longer, on average were awake fewer minutes overall, and were active for shorter periods than those without the disorder.
    
They also displayed lower activity levels while awake and had greater variations in sleep and wake cycles.
    
The study involved more than 500 members of 26 families from Costa Rica and Colombia, identified because they each include many individuals with severe bipolar disorder.
    
The study was published in the journal PNAS.

 

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