What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

3 BIG Factors

Genetic Vulnerability

Biological Vulnerability

Life Stress

Bipolar Disorder is really a collection of symptoms or variables.

The Three Biggest Factors Being:

  • Genetic Vulnerability
  • Biological Vulnerability
  • Life Stress’

There isn’t a simple “cause” per se for Bipolar Disorder. But there a whole bunch of things that come together to contribute to the disease expressing itself through someone.

Which is tough because we all want it to be black and white so we can point to one thing and say, “That’s why!”. But that’s not the case with Bipolar Disorder.

There a million different variables at play that influence a person who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

All of these variables interact and influence each other and contribute to Bipolar Disorder manifesting in a persons life.

Bipolar disorder is influenced from genes (genetic vulnerability), biology (biological vulnerability), physical/emotional/mental environments (past & present), physical trauma, childhood trauma and stress (physical/emotional/mental)

A whole mis-mash of things come together.

But at the baseline of it all is VULNERABILITY.

That a person who has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder seem to have a vulnerable brain so to speak.

People who have Bipolar Disorder seem to be sensitive to life and others and are vulnerable to that sensitivity so that life stress (inner/outer) really puts an excessive amount of pressure on the body (physical/emotional/mental).

This is good to know!


Because it shows us that as Bipolar Disorder Survivors we have a certain amount of control and power that we can weild in our lives.

It shows us that there are some things (habits, thoughts, environments, people, etc) that we should try to avoid (risk factors).

And  there’s other things that we should strengthen (protective factors)

Here Are Some of the Major Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorder

  • Not taking your medication(s)
  • Not sleeping a minimum of 7.5 hours per day for at least 5 days a week
  • Not having a good support network
  • Abusing alcohol and drugs
  • Not having good coping and stress reducing strategies in place
  • Not participating or engaging with life
  • Living a life that doesn’t follow a routine
  • Poor eating habits
  • Poor dental cleaning habits
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive pressure(s)

All of the above completely compromise even the healthies individual but especially put a Bipolar Disorder sufferer at a high risk of having an episode or having more episodes.

Here Are Some of the Major Protective Factors of Bipolar Disorder

  • Taking your medication(s)
  • Sleeping a minimum of 7.5 hours per day for at least 5 days a week
  • Having a good social support network around and protecting you
  • Following a daily routine
  • Being sensitive to yourself and your needs
  • Eating well
  • Resting
  • Relaxing
  • Having good dental hygiene
  • Having a healthy gut
  • Exercising
  • Meditating
  • Movement (tai chi/yoga/walking/etc)
  • Living a “balanced” life
  • Managing your money
  • Avoiding debt
  • Having good coping and stress reducing strategies
  • Taking on “just enough” work/life stress
  • Effective heartfelt and honest communication
  • Good problem solving skills

All of the above will help a person with Bipolar Disorder live a healthy and happy life which minimizes the chances of having more episodes.

Genetic Vulnerability

One of the first questions I was asked by my doctors was if I knew of anyone in the family who also suffered from a mental disease like Bipolar Disorder.

Supposedly this is because people who have immediate relatives with Bipolar Disorder have a higher risk of developing the disorder themselves.

Bipolar disorder tends to run in families.

Biological Vulnerability

This means that a person with Bipolar Disorder more than likely has biochemical imbalances in the brain that makes them vulnerable to experiencing mood episodes.

Because of this Biological Vulnerability Bipolar individuals have a tougher time functioning properly especially in stressful situation and because of this fact, the vulnerability may lead to a person experiencing episodes of “low/depressive” or “high/manic” moods. 

Life Stress

The Buddha said that life is stressful. It’s filled with moments of frustrations, upsets and moments of sadness.

This isn’t all there is to life but the Buddha felt we need to really see this fact and know it fully. Once we do then we can see that we can do something about those life stresses.

For a person with Bipolar Disorder they are even more susceptible to the every day stress of life.

Family fights, being over-worked, getting married or going through a breakup, a death of a loved one or even going on vacation all put pressure on ourselves in a multitude of ways.

All of these things really influence the balance of your life when you have Bipolar Disorder.

Something as routine as planning a road trip may stressout and overwhelm a Bipolar person if they aren’t living a healthy life.

The Three Go Into One

These three factors:

  • Genetic Vulnerability
  • Biological Vulnerability
  • Life Stress’

Blend together and heavily influence a person with Bipolar Disorder.

If they don’t have good coping systems in place they’re at a higher risk of getting sick.

So having a good grounding in developing all the above Protective Factors and minimizing the Risk Factors will help a person with Bipolar Disorder tremendously.