I suppose that I’ve been in my head a lot lately. I’m trying to figure out the answers to some questions that probably can’t be answered. However, I’m going to try to find some sort of answer because that’s the kind of mood that I’m in right now. I want to know the answer to the question, “why me?” I think about this a lot, but I’ve never actually tried to really figure it all out. Bipolar disorder is not caused by any one single thing; it is instead caused by multiple factors.
The following is general information regarding bipolar causes and risk factors. The information below is not advice, and should not be treated that way.
Family History and Genetics: Individuals that have bipolar disorder in their families are more likely to develop bipolar disorder themselves. This is especially true for individuals with a parent or sibling with bipolar. This doesn’t mean that people with a family history of bipolar will develop the disorder themselves. Also, individuals with certain genetics are also more likely to develop bipolar disorder.
I know that personally, there are mental health issues on my father’s side of the family. His sister and one of his brothers have known mental health diagnoses, but I’m not sure what they are. There is also someone on my mother’s side that struggles with depression. I know that there is no one diagnosed with bipolar disorder on my mother’s side. Neither of my parents has/had mental health issues.
Brain Structure: Individuals that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder often have physical changes to the structure of their brains. There is often a natural imbalance in the neurotransmitters in the brain of an individual who has bipolar disorder. I’m not sure if it would ever be possible, but it would be great if doctors could eventually find out which individuals are more prone to developing bipolar disorder. Maybe it’s already possible, I’m not exactly sure.
Common Issues: There are many types of issues that are known to trigger the first bipolar episode in individuals. These factors include but are not limited to high stress periods, drug and alcohol abuse, major life changes, and traumatic experiences.
I experienced all of these situations. My father was diagnosed with cancer; he lived for several years with the illness before dying. I used drugs and alcohol so I wouldn’t have to feel my emotions. Because of my drug abuse, I met a guy that ended up being very abusive towards me for about 18 months. They may have triggered an episode, but they didn’t cause my bipolar disorder. My bipolar was there to begin with, and these situations probably just helped it come out.
Co-Occurring Conditions: Many individuals that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder often have other conditions such as PTSD, ADHD, various anxiety disorders, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and physical health issues. Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder are more likely to have both physical and mental health conditions.
I’m also diagnosed with PTSD, I’m 12 years sober from drugs and alcohol, and I have a variety of physical health issues.
There are many factors that contribute to individuals being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, just because some has one or even several of these causes/risk factors, doesn’t mean they have or will end up having bipolar disorder.