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Causes of bipolar disorder

Manic depression

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression or manic-depressive disorder) is a psychiatric illness. Patients suffering from this condition experience extreme mood swings, cycles of manic and depressive episodes. Those episodes might be followed with hallucinations and delusions, and sometimes suicidal thoughts and actions.

Manic depression usually starts in the adolescence or early adult age, and the exact cause of this illness is not known. According to the current medical theory, malfunction of neurotransmitters in the specific part of the brain could be responsible for this illness. Bipolar disorder might then start without any apparent reason, or be related to genetic factors, stress or some other causes, like environment or certain medications.


This condition runs in the family and 50% of bipolar disorder patients have another member of the family suffering from mood disorders. If your parent has this condition chances that you are going to have the same illness are about 15 to 25%. You have about 25% chances to have the same disorder if both or your parents had bipolar disorder, or your twin brother/sister has the disease.

The studies of the affect of genetics and environment to bipolar disorder on adopted twins concluded that if the identical twin has the illness, the chances you’re going to have it too are 8 times bigger.

Environmental Causes

Abuse of alcohol or drugs and hormonal problems might lead to bipolar disorder. They are not considered to be exact cause, but rather a trigger for the illness. Their use may endanger the recovery from the bipolar disorder and worsen the episodes.

Other Causes

Antidepressants might cause a manic episode in patients with some risk to this illness. Sometimes, specialists recommend preventive use of anti-manic medications in those cases. Some drugs could cause manic-like episodes. Medications taken for weight loss, especially appetite suppressants might be one of them. They increase energy levels and decrease the need for sleep, causing a “high” effect, which looks like a mania. Once the medication is stopped, the person gets back to normal mood. Cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines may also provoke manic episodes. High doses of common cold medications are known to show similar effects. Some non-psychiatric medicines, used to treat thyroid disorders or use of corticosteroids (mostly Prednisone), might trigger manic attack.

Caffeine, alcohol or smoking should be avoided. Normal doses of caffeine won’t harm you, but excessive, more than couple cups a day can cause manic-like episode.

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