What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
At PCH, we don’t attribute a bipolar diagnosis to one specific cause. Instead, we take a layered approach to understanding the factors and underlying causes of bipolar behavior.
Bipolar Disorder Causes
If you’re looking for a simple answer to the question, “What causes bipolar disorder?” you may be disappointed to discover that there is no easy answer. We don’t know the precise cause of bipolar disorder, but research has shown that bipolar disorder can be attributed to a variety of factors and underlying conditions.
PCH takes a holistic approach to identifying and assessing each of those factors in the individual. Our team then creates a customized bipolar treatment plan that draws on the strengths of each client while providing the tools to improve quality of life.
When faced with a bipolar diagnosis, these are the underlying causes and factors we most frequently consider:
Research has shown that there is likely a genetic component to bipolar disorder. Studies have demonstrated that an individual with a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed as bipolar—including a parent or a sibling—is more likely to struggle with the condition. While researchers are still searching for the specific genes associated with bipolar disorder, we also understand that you can’t directly modify genetics with today’s technology.
Our experts take into account the genetic factor as an underlying cause, and we also acknowledge that a person’s genetic makeup never exists in a vacuum. Genetic evolution continually responds to external stimuli, stressors, and threats. As a result, it’s virtually impossible to distinguish between purely genetic causation versus environmental causes for a bipolar diagnosis.
Sudden or Chronic Stressors
When you have a bipolar disorder diagnosis, a new or long-term stressor in the environment can trigger a manic state that may last anywhere from weeks to months. A period of intense stress frequently precedes a manic episode, and prior drug or alcohol abuse may resurface. Traumatic life events or the death of a loved one often trigger a bipolar event, and when left untreated, an individual may:
- Struggle with drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Consider or commit suicide
- Experience financial trouble
- Lose close relationships
- Perform poorly at work
When this happens, stress becomes a vicious cycle of problems that compound, and a manic or depressive state can increase anxiety in every area of life.
Varying Sleep Patterns
A lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns can trigger or increase the likelihood of a manic episode. An individual in a manic state often does not need as much sleep but may experience insomnia or oversleeping during a depressive episode. Like with stress, irregular sleep cycles can compound the problems associated with a bipolar diagnosis while slowing down the road to recovery.
Individuals with a bipolar diagnosis often struggle with other co-occurring conditions that require additional treatment or medication like:
- Anxiety treatment
- Relationship difficulties
- Alcohol and/or drug addiction
- Physical health issues
As a result, many individuals benefit by taking a look at all the medication they’re taking to formulate the right regimen for their overall well-being. We have found that many individuals struggling with bipolar states or mood dysregulation are ultimately put on antidepressants, which can intensify symptoms during a manic or depressive event.
How PCH Treats the Causes of Bipolar States
When you come to PCH, we review every bipolar diagnosis while taking into account the underlying causes of the diagnosis to provide a level of tailored treatment that you won’t find anywhere else. Our team helps you understand the links between your genetic makeup and a bipolar diagnosis. Along with a genetic evaluation, we specialize in stress management, sleep management, and medication management to provide a four-sided approach to treating the root factors contributing to bipolar episodes.
Pinpoint Bipolar Triggers
To proactively identify and sidestep bipolar triggers before they happen, we teach clients and their loves ones to:
- Localize the warning signs: Uncover the patterns of behavior, past trauma, memories, and even people that may trigger a bipolar episode.
- Continue taking medication: Most individuals struggling with bipolar stop taking their medication when they feel “normal” again, often acting as a trigger.
- Abstain from drugs and alcohol: Treating bipolar is all about mood regulation. Drugs and alcohol cause mood dysregulation, almost always making bipolar symptoms worse.
Can you ever make bipolar disorder go away? With the right guidance, you’ll get a whole lot closer than you ever would alone. Reach out to the dedicated team at PCH and we’ll help you take the next steps to recovery.