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Who gets Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a brain disorder and it runs in families. The risk of Bipolar Disorder is nearly tenfold higher in first degree-relatives of those affected with bipolar disorder when compared to the general population. There is no bipolar gene but studies have shown that it is connected to a genetic makeup, so it is rather about a combination of genes than a single gene that gives an individual the risk of developing Bipolar Disorder.


While there is no evidence for environmental factors causing Bipolar Disorder, trauma, stress and major life events can trigger the onset of Bipolar Disorder or bipolar episodes.

When someone develops bipolar disorder, it usually starts when they're in late adolescence or young adulthood. Rarely, it can happen earlier in childhood. Men and women are equally likely to get it. Women are somewhat more likely than men to go through "rapid cycling," which is having four or more distinct mood episodes within a year. Women also tend to spend more time depressed than men with bipolar disorder.

Many people with the condition abuse alcohol or other drugs when manic or depressed. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to have seasonal depression, coexisting anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. So the risk of comorbidity is high.

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