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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Chances of having a child with a mood or psychiatric disorder.



I am thinking of having a child in the future but am very hesitant. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 1. My sister also has Bipolar 1. My mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. My maternal aunt had schizophrenia. My maternal uncle had Bipolar 1. Also, my two maternal uncles were alcoholics. Lastly, my paternal grandmother had Bipolar disorder as well. What are the chances that my future child would inherit some kind of mood or psychiatric disorder?

Thank you!

Hi Teresa

Congratulations on your caution and concern, and I wish I could allay them. Most of the conditions in your family do indeed have a genetic component (not alcoholism as far as I know), but I don't have specific numbers on the individual or additive predisposition.

I'm sorry that this topic is some distance from my area of expertise but I didn't want to reject the question because I need to add something.

Please consult with a geneticist who can give you more specifics on the chances. If you don't know how to find one, feel free to send me a follow-up. And it might be helpful to ask whoever diagnosed and is treating you if your condition is contraindicated for motherhood or whether it's controlled enough to be irrelevant.

I'm sure you'd make a marvellous mother, but you have to think of yourself as well, and even under perfect conditions, raising a child can be mighty hard.

In any case, thanks for asking us, and the best of luck whatever your decision.


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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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