Which risk factors are associated with bipolar disorder?

Like many disorders, bipolar disorder can arise from both genetic and environmental influences. Several risk factors have been identified as increasing the risk for bipolar disorder, these include:

  • Having a parent with bipolar disorder.
  • Exposure to meningitis or tuberculosis in childhood.
  • Exposure to maternal smoking in utero.
  • Having older parents at birth (over 34 years).
  • Having a gestational age of less than 32 weeks, with a lower risk between 32 and 36 weeks.
  • Exposure to childhood adversities, including loss of a close relative, bullying, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. The nature, timing, severity, and duration of exposure are likely to influence mental health outcomes.
  • Recreational substance use, particularly in childhood or adolescence.

April 2019

Last updated at: 11:19 pm, 9th April 2019

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