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Portsmouth Regional Hospital

Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop bipolar disorder with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing bipolar disorder. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Bipolar disorder can run in families. There is a high likelihood that there is a genetic component to this disorder. Eighty to ninety percent of individuals with bipolar disorder have a relative with either depression or bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is not caused by one specific gene. It is caused by many genes that act together.

Being diagnosed with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, can increase your risk of bipolar disorder.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2016 -
  • Update Date: 09/17/2014 -
  • Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated September 5, 2016. Accessed September 13, 2016.

  • Bipolar disorder in adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Updated November 2015. Accessed September 13, 2016.

  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

  • Fusar-Poli P, Bechdolf A, Borgwardt S. Mapping vulnerability to bipolar disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2012;37(3):170-184.

  • Salvadore G, Drevets WC, Henter ID, Zarate CA, Manji HK. Early intervention in Bipolar Disorder, Part II: Therapeutics. Early Interv Psychiatry. 2008;2(3):136-146.