Bipolar Disorder: Causes, Triggers and Risk Age

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a psychological disorder characterized by experiencing Manic Episodes and Major Depressive Episodes. Manic Episodes refer to an episode of extreme highs, associated with elevated mode, distractibility, lack of need for sleep and in some cases psychotic features. Whereas Major Depressive Episodes are associated with depressive mood, lack or diminishment of interest in all, fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia and weight loss. 

The causes of Bipolar Disorder are not yet clearly identified. However it is believed that the disorder starts by an imbalance in neurotransmitters. Serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine are typically associated with this imbalance. Genetics are also believed to play a role in the development of Bipolar Disorder. However both of these factors require a trigger to actually prompt a Bipolar Episode.

Triggers can vary depending on the type of episode they result in. They can include stressful life events or physical illness. Major Depressive Episodes can be triggered by environmental stressors, such as receiving negative feedback or failing an exam, sleep deprivation, injury, physical illness or lack of exercise. Whereas triggers for Manic Episodes may include similar ones to the depressive triggers, however there are also some which are more specific for a Manic Episode. Those include falling in love, use of drugs or alcohol, vacationing, partying or starting a new creative project. It is very important to understand those triggers as it can inform an individual with Bipolar Disorder what times are specifically possible to turn into one of the episodes. 

As Bipolar Disorder is a disorder categorized as psychopathology of emotions, it can be very intense and severe during teenage years. Data shows that up to 65% of adults with Bipolar Disorder experienced symptoms prior to their 18th birthday. As emotions of teenagers are known to be more extreme and in general a bit different than adults’ emotions, it is expected that some symptoms may vary. For example, it is typical for teenagers to experience more irritability than elevated mood during a Manic Episode. Moreover they describe more somatic symptoms during a Major Depressive Episode than sadness. 

Bipolar Disorder may look different during a person's life span. Even though the triggest should be defined and known to the individual suffering from the disorder, as this may help stabilize the mood and in general control the disorder.

Read, K.(2021, October 18). Bipolar Disorder in Children: What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Bipolar Disorder. Verywellmind.

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