Causes of bipolar disorder: genes, biology and experience (2023)

Bipolar disorder is a condition associated with extreme mood swings. The causes can be complex, but bipolar disorder is easily treatable.

Bipolar disorder has three main types: Bipolar I and Bipolar II.cyclothymic disorder(also called cyclothymia).

The mood episodes you experience and their intensity can vary depending on the type of bipolar disorder you have.

For example, you can tryMania, which is often described as an uplifted, happy, energetic state. You can also tryDepressionit leaves you exhausted and disinterested in everyday life.

These changes can be gradual, giving you time to spot signs of impending mania or depression. They can also happen quickly, leaving little time for you to prepare.

If you live with bipolar disorder, you already know a lot about how it makes you feel. You might know less about itgoodyou feel this way

Would you like more information about possible causes? Are you curious about your own chances of developing the disease? You're in the right place.

researchers studyBipolar disorderSeveral theories have been put forward in recent decades to explain how this condition develops. Existing evidence points to a variety of possible causes rather than a specific cause.

Experts believe that bipolar disorder usually develops from a combination of the following factors:

  • Genetic
  • Chemistry and biology of the brain
  • Environmental Factors

If this is the first time you've noticed the symptoms, you may be able to relate them to a recent source of stress, a health issue, or a new medication.

These things can certainly trigger humorous episodes, but they don't directly.causedBipolar disorder.

(Video) The neurobiology of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder often runs in families.

According to the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), if you have an adult family member with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder, you are, on average, 10 times more likely to develop the disorder. disorder. .

This is also reported by the American Psychiatric Association80 a 90%of people with bipolar disorder have a family member living with depression or bipolar disorder.

Related factors that affect your likelihood of developing bipolar disorder include:

  • family history of depression
  • Family history of schizophrenia (Investigationindicates some genetic overlap between these two disorders)
  • the number of family members with bipolar disorder or other mood disorders
  • Your relationship with these family members

In general, the closer relationship increases this probability. For example, someone whose brother or parent has bipolar disorder is more likely to develop the illness than someone whose cousin or uncle has it.

The researchers haveconnectedtwo key genes,CACNA1jANK3to bipolar disorder. But they note that many other genes likely also play a role.

Because genes are only part of the picture, not everyone with a family history of bipolar disorder will develop the illness.

studiesin twins support this. There is evidence that if one identical twin has bipolar disorder, the other has a high, but not certain, chance of having the same diagnosis.

Chemistry and biology of the brain.

(Video) What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder also has a neurological component.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain. They help transmit messages between nerve cells throughout the body. These chemicals play an essential role in healthy brain function. Some of them even help regulate mood and behavior.

OlderInvestigationlinks three key neurotransmitters to bipolar disorder:

  • serotonin
  • dopamine
  • Norepinephrine (also called norepinephrine)

Imbalances in these brain chemicals can cause episodes of manic, depressed, or hypomanic mood. This is especially the case when environmental triggers or other factors come into play.

The role of mitochondria

Experts |I also think that mitochondria, which you might remember from science class as energy-producing cells, otherwise known as "cell powerhouses," might have something to do with the development of mood disorders.

When cells don't produce or metabolize energy as they normally would, the resulting imbalances in brain energy can lead to mood and behavior changes commonly seen in bipolar disorder.

Brain structure and gray matter.

SomeTrialsuggests that people with bipolar disorder have less gray matter in certain parts of the brain, including the temporal and frontal lobes.

These areas of the brain help to regulate emotions and control inhibitions. Lower gray matter volume may explain why emotion regulation and impulse control become difficult during mood episodes.

Gray matter contains cells that help process sensory signals and information.

InvestigationHe also linked the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning, memory, mood and impulse control, to mood disorders. If you have bipolar disorder, your hippocampus may be smaller overall in volume or slightly different in shape.

However, these brain differences do not necessarily cause bipolar disorder. Still, they offer a glimpse into how the disease can progress and affect brain function.

Life experiences and environmental triggers.

(Video) Bipolar Disorder Explained Clearly

Family history can certainly increase the likelihood of developing bipolar disorder, but many people at genetic risk never develop the condition.

Various factors in your environment provide another starting point to consider. This can include:

  • personal experiences
  • health and sleep
  • external stressors
  • alcohol or drug use

Investigationshows that childhood trauma is a risk factor for bipolar disorder and is associated with more severe symptoms.

This is because severe emotional distress in childhood can affect your ability to regulate your emotions as an adult. Childhood trauma can be:

  • sexual or physical abuse
  • negligence
  • traumatic events
  • extreme life situations

It is important to differentiate between causes of bipolar disorder, such as genetics and brain chemistry, and triggers. They interact to produce humorous episodes, but they are not all the same.

Mood swings can occur after certain life events, such as a difficult breakup, losing your job, or having a child. Habits like B. regularly not getting enough sleep or drinking too much alcohol can trigger or worsen mood swings.

However, none of this means that you are to blame. No one can conclusively say who will and who will not develop bipolar disorder. Its causes are beyond your control.

Other possible environmental factors may include:

  • underlying health conditions
  • Diet
  • sudden, severe stress, such as B. a death or other loss
  • Minor, persistent stress such as B. Problems at work or family problems

You may not notice symptoms of bipolar disorder between mood episodes. Still, it is quite common to have other medical conditions alongside bipolar disorder.

Conditions commonly associated with bipolar disorder include:

  • Anguish.Investigationsuggests that at least half of all people with bipolar disorder are likely to have aanxiety disorderat some point in life.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Bipolar disorder has been linked to childhood trauma, so it's understandablemany peopleoccupyexpectedAlso.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).bipolar disorder oftenthis happens with adhd, especially when mood symptoms beginbefore the 21st.
  • substance use disorders.The DSM-5 notes that more than half of all people who meet the criteria for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder also have aalcohol use disorderor other substance use disorder.
  • Psychosis.Delusions, hallucinations and other symptoms of psychosis are often symptoms ofschizophrenia, but they can also occur with bipolar disorder.
  • Eating disorder.Many people living with bipolar disorder also have aeating disorder. Bulimia nervosa and bipolar II disorder occurmore connected.
  • Migraine. Investigationsuggests that people with bipolar disorder have a much higher risk of migraines.

Bipolar disorder treatmentwith medication it can be a delicate balance.antidepressantswhich help alleviate depressive episodes can sometimes trigger manic episodes.

If your doctor recommends medication, he or she may prescribe an antimanic medication, such as lithium, along with an antidepressant. These medications can help prevent a manic episode.

When developing a treatment plan with your doctor, be sure to inform him or her of all medications you are taking. Some medications can make depressive and manic episodes worse.

Also, report the use of any substances to your doctor, including alcohol and caffeine, as they can sometimes trigger mood swings.

Some substances, such as cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines, can produce a euphoria similar to a manic episode. Drugs that may have a similar effect include:

  • high doses of appetite suppressants and cold medicine
  • Prednisone and other steroids
  • Schilddrüsenmedikamente

If you think you're having a mood episode or other symptoms of bipolar disorder, it's always a good idea to contact your doctor as soon as possible.


The causes can be complex, but bipolar disorder is easily treatable. Although you have no control over whether the condition develops, there are steps you can take to manage mood episodes and other symptoms.

First, talk to your doctor about a treatment plan that works well for you. Many people find that medication helps stabilize mood swings, so a doctor or psychiatrist may recommend medication as a primary treatment.

Alternative therapies and treatments may also be of benefit. A therapist can help you deal with your mood symptoms. And therapy in general also provides an opportunity to develop healthy coping skills toDealing with Stress and Triggerson your terms.

(Video) PGC: Genetics of Bipolar Disorder - Brandon Coombes & Kevin O'Connell

Are you looking for more information about the treatment?Get a detailed look at bipolar disorder treatment here.


What causes bipolar disorder biologically? ›

Chemical imbalance in the brain

There is some evidence that bipolar disorder may be associated with chemical imbalances in the brain. The chemicals responsible for controlling the brain's functions are called neurotransmitters, and include noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine.

Is bipolar disorder caused by genetics? ›

Genetic factors and bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is frequently inherited, with genetic factors accounting for approximately 80% of the cause of the condition. Bipolar disorder is the most likely psychiatric disorder to be passed down from family.

What genes are responsible for bipolar disorder? ›

Led by scientists at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard who collaborated with colleagues around the globe, the effort pinpoints a gene called AKAP11 as a strong risk factor for both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

What are the 3 main causes factors of bipolar? ›

Risk factors
  • Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with bipolar disorder.
  • Periods of high stress, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic event.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
Dec 13, 2022

What is bipolar in biology? ›

Collapse Section. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and behavior. This disorder most often appears in late adolescence or early adulthood, although symptoms can begin at any time of life.


1. 5 Signs Someone Grew Up with Bipolar Disorder | MedCircle
2. The Science & Treatment of Bipolar Disorder | Huberman Lab Podcast #82
(Andrew Huberman)
3. Bipolar disorder (depression & mania) - causes, symptoms, treatment & pathology
(Osmosis from Elsevier)
4. It's Not Just in Your Head: The Genetics of Mental Illness | Tamoha Saha | TEDxLosAltosHigh
(TEDx Talks)
5. Dr Jordan Smoller Bipolar Disorder What do genes have to do with it May 2013
(International Bipolar Foundation)
6. Bipolar Disorder | Manic Depression | What Patients & Family Should Know | Let's Talk Mental Health
(JHP Medical UK)
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