There are quite a few causes and risk factors that come along with bipolar disorder. Although there is no exact cause of the disorder, the factors that can be involved are numerous. Bipolar shows a lot of symptoms in the two different phases of the disorder, making it easy for people to realize something is wrong. People can experience manic highs, and very low bouts of depression, and they fluctuate in-between these two polar opposite moods. The understanding of bipolar disorder can be essential in the treatment process. Knowing the things that can cause or increase your risk of bipolar disorder will better help you understand exactly what is happening in your brain and why. This will help you see why the medications and therapy are necessary, and also remind you that the way bipolar makes you feel is not your fault, rather, the fault of different factors that happen in the brain. Recognizing this will make coming to terms with the disorder, as well as accepting treatment much easier. 

Like many disorders, bipolar runs in families. About half the people who have bipolar disorder have a family member with bipolar, or another mood disorder, like depression or schizophrenia. A person who has one parent with bipolar disorder has a 15 to 25% chance of also developing the condition. In addition to this, a person who has an identical twin with bipolar disorder has an even greater risk of developing the illness than a person who has a non-identical twin.  Experts are still trying to find the genes that may be involved in causing bipolar, which will help them be better able to predict the possibility of a person developing the disorder in their lifetime.

Bipolar disorder affects the brain. It is a biological disorder that occurs in a specific area of the brain, and is due to the dysfunction of certain chemical messengers in the brain. The chemicals that may be being affected are ones like serotonin and norepinephrine. It is known that people with bipolar have physical changes in their brains. Although the changes are still uncertain, they may help pinpoint specific causes.

There are many risk factors that can trigger the onset of bipolar as well. A major life event, like the death of a loved one, abuse, or other traumatic experiences could trigger the development of bipolar disorder. Periods of high stress can also increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder. The heavy usage of alcohol and drugs may not cause the onset of bipolar disorder, but the use of them can worsen the illness by interfering with the treatment and recovery process. Lack of sleep is another factor in causing the onset of bipolar. If a person is prone to bipolar because it runs in their family, lack of sleep may increase the risk of having an episode of mania. If you have bipolar disorder and you take antidepressants, it can cause a switch into the manic state quite quickly.

Looking out for these causes and risk factors, as well as being educated about your family’s past with bipolar can help with the diagnosis of the disorder. If you know you are prone to bipolar, you can look out for symptoms early on, and get treatment sooner rather than later.