Is Bipolar Disorder Hereditary?

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition. People with bipolar disorder can alternate between periods of positive moods, called mania, and negative moods, called depression. These mood shifts can occur suddenly. About 2.8 percent of the adolescent and adult U.S. population have bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Bipolar disorder and its causes aren’t well-understood. That said, researchers have noted a possible connection between family history and bipolar disorder. This suggests there may be a genetic component to the disorder.

Keep reading to learn more about this connection and about bipolar disorder.

Heredity and bipolar disorder

While researchers don’t fully understand the causes of bipolar disorder, they have identified some risk factors. One of the strongest risk factors is a family history of the disorder. This connection may be due to certain genes.

Adults who have relatives with the disorder have an average tenfold increase in risk of developing the disorder, according to a 2009 review. Your risk further increases if the family member with the condition is a close relative. That means if your parent has bipolar disorder, you have a greater chance of developing it than someone whose great aunt has the condition.

Genetic factors account for about 60 to 80 percent of the cause of bipolar disorder. That means that heredity isn’t the only cause of bipolar disorder. It also means that if you have a family history of the disorder, you won’t definitely develop it. Most family members of someone with bipolar disorder won’t develop the condition.

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