While the underlying causes of bipolar are still unknown, it is however agreed upon that it has biological underpinnings and its onset is linked to a stressful life event. There are a number of factors believed to play a role in bipolar manifestation. They include;

Genetic Inheritance

If a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they are more likely to have had or currently have a family member who also suffered from bipolar disorder. Genetic factors contribute to 80% of bipolar disorder onset. In a sense, if a parent is diagnosed with bipolar there is 10% that their offspring will develop the disease if both parents are bipolic, this value is increased to 40%.

But this should not be taken into account, there are other bipolar causing factors like environment and childhood trauma.

Brain chemistry

Recent research and study about bipolar disorder have shown that it is directly related to abnormal serotonin chemistry in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter located in the brain which is responsible for regulating a person’s mood. Abnormal serotonin chemistry is thought to strongly affects the mood of a person leading to mood swings. However, it is highly unlikely that serotonin is the only neurotransmitter involved.

Environmental factors

While a stressful life event has been linked to the onset of bipolar disorder, it is unlikely that stress itself is the underlying cause of bipolar disorder. Moreover, people who suffer from bipolar disorder, as do normal people without the bipolar disorder, often have the need to managing and mitigating stress in their lives.

Seasonal factors like the onset of winter and summer, with varying daylight hours, interfere with the normal functioning of the pineal gland and can potentially trigger depression and mania.


For women who are predisposed to percolating bipolar disorder (either genetically or biologically), the prenatal period can occur simultaneously with the first episode of bipolar disorder. The mother experiences mood swings that could potentially extend even after they have given birth.

Childhood trauma

Psychological experts believe an individual may develop bipolar disorder if they experienced a traumatic event in their past years, perhaps as a child. Examples of emotional distress include;

  • Sexual or physical abuse
  • Forms of neglect
  • Certain traumatic events like accidents
  • Losing someone who was close to you like a parent or a friend

Experiencing trauma and emotional distress in their formative years impact heavily in your life as you grow up, on your ability to control your emotions.

Stressful life events

Stressful events like relationship break-ups, poverty and financial constraints and traumatic loss, have been shown to have a direct link with the onset of bipolar disorder in the individuals experiencing these stressful events.

All these potentially lead to stress, which leads to mania and depression.

Self-esteem problems

Having low self-esteem has been accredited by researchers and psychologists to be a potential cause for mania. Mania episodes may be in a way, escaping from the feeling of depression.

It has been noted that, when an individual feels bad about themselves, mania boosts their self-confidence enabling them to cope.