Can Bipolar Disorder Be Inherited? An Overview

Can bipolar disorder be inherited? What does a bipolar diagnosis mean? Read on to learn more about bipolar disorder and its origins.

What is Bipolar Disorder? Can Bipolar Disorder Be Inherited?

What is bipolar disorder, and can bipolar disorder be inherited? Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme and fluctuating mood swings. People with bipolar disorder experience intense and persistent emotional states such as mania, hypomania, or depression.

These episodes can last for days, weeks, or months and can significantly impact a person’s ability to function in their daily life. These symptoms may lead those who struggle with the disorder to wonder about bipolar disorder’s origins and diagnostic process.

can bipolar disorder be inherited

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

While the exact causes of bipolar disorder are unknown, evidence suggests that genetics are a risk factor in developing it. Research has identified specific areas in our chromosomes that are linked to the disorder. Severe bipolar disorder type 1 has been proven to have a strong genetic component.
Understanding the causes, symptoms, and the genetic basis of the disorder is crucial for identifying individuals at risk. This can also help individuals if other family members have exhibited symptoms as well.1

Causes of Bipolar Disorder: Can Bipolar Disorder Be Inherited?

The exact causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood, but research suggests that several factors contribute to its development. Here are the main causes of bipolar disorder:


Research shows that bipolar disorder tends to run in families, suggesting that there is a hereditary component to the condition. So, can bipolar disorder be inherited? Scientists have identified specific genes that may increase a person’s risk of developing bipolar disorder. The risk of developing bipolar disorder is increased if a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, has the condition.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, like stress and substance abuse, can put someone more at risk of developing bipolar disorder. Traumatic events such as abuse, neglect, or the loss of a loved one or a job can cause mood episodes as well.

Brain Chemistry

Brain chemistry imbalances, particularly in the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, have been linked to the development of bipolar disorder. These chemicals help regulate mood, and any imbalance can lead to mood episodes. 

Lifestyle Factors

Poor diet, lack of exercise, or poor sleep habits can also play a role in developing and exacerbating bipolar disorder symptoms. Taking care of one’s physical and mental health can help manage symptoms and prevent mood episodes from occurring.

Statistics and Research on Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder will affect approximately 2.4% of the population globally. The condition can impact people of ages and genders, although it typically starts in late adolescence or early adulthood.2 Neuroimaging studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder have differences in brain structure and function compared to those without the condition. These differences are particularly evident in areas of the brain involved in emotion regulation.
Studies have also identified specific genes that may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder. Although the condition is not solely a genetic disorder, it’s important to explore the topic of “can bipolar disorder be inherited?” This can help family members understand the symptoms and how to best support their loved ones.

Prevalence of Bipolar Disorder

The prevalence of bipolar disorder across the world by country is estimated at 0.3-1.2%. The estimated prevalence of bipolar disorder may seem relatively low. However, it is still a significant public health concern due to the impact it can have on individuals, families, and communities.3
The condition affects people of all ages, although it typically starts in late adolescence or early adulthood. Approximately 4.4% of adults in the United States will experience bipolar illness at some point.4

Can Bipolar Disorder Be Inherited Through Genetics?

As stated before, there is strong evidence to suggest that bipolar disorder has a genetic component. Studies of families with bipolar disorder have shown that the condition tends to run in families. 
Individuals with a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of developing the condition themselves. Like many other disorders or diseases, genetics often has a bigger role in development than we may have previously thought.

Risk Factors for Developing Bipolar Disorder

Several risk factors can increase a person’s likelihood of developing bipolar disorder. These include:
  • Family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health disorders
  • Traumatic or stressful life events
  • Medications, such as antidepressants
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or sleep apnea
  • Substance abuse
  • Personal history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders.
  • Medical conditions such as thyroid or multiple sclerosis
These may all have an impact on someone developing the disorder, although severity may vary.

Can Bipolar Disorder Be Inherited? Impacts on Well-Being

Bipolar disorder can significantly impact an individual’s overall well-being, affecting various aspects of their life. The following are some ways in which bipolar disorder can impact well-being:

Social Well-Being

People with bipolar disorder find it hard to have meaningful friendships, get along with family members, and work with people. Sometimes when people feel moody and irritated, they do things impulsively without thinking. This can cause problems with the people around them.

Financial Well-Being

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be unpredictable, making it hard for people to keep a job or manage their money well. This can lead to financial strain and debt, which can further worsen the disorder’s symptoms.

Physical Well-Being

Bipolar disorder can also impact a person’s physical well-being. It can cause insomnia, leading to fatigue and making it difficult for individuals to do daily tasks. People with bipolar disorder may engage in risky behaviors during manic episodes, which can put their physical health at risk.

Emotional Well-Being

Bipolar disorder can cause intense mood swings, ranging from periods of mania or hypomania to depression. This can be difficult for people who don’t have a lot of support from others.

Family Counseling and Treatment Options

Bipolar disorder can be challenging to deal with, not only for the person experiencing it but also for their family members. Family counseling and different types of treatment can be used to help them manage and cope with the disorder. By working together and exploring the question of “can bipolar disorder be inherited?”, families can help mitigate symptoms.

The treatment for bipolar disorder varies depending on the severity of the individual’s symptoms. In general, the treatment of bipolar disorder may include a combination of the following.


Medication is often used as a first line of treatment for bipolar disorder. Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are commonly used to treat bipolar disorder. Other medications, such as anticonvulsants, may also be used.


Psychotherapy or talk therapy involves working with a therapist. This treatment helps improve the individual’s communication skills and develop healthy coping strategies. Some types of psychotherapy used in treating bipolar disorder include:


Psychoeducation involves educating members daily about bipolar disorder, its symptoms, and treatment options. By understanding the condition better, family members can support and care for their loved ones.
can bipolar disorder be inherited

Get Help for Bipolar Disorder at Advaita Integrated Medicine

If you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms of bipolar disorder or trying to figure out the answer to “can bipolar disorder be inherited?”, it is important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. 

The team at Advaita Integrated Medicine offers comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services to individuals struggling with bipolar disorder. From medication management to therapy, Advaita Integrated Medicine is dedicated to providing personalized care for each and every one of our patients.

Reach Out and Begin Healing

We will go above and beyond to get you the help you need and help you answer any questions you may have about the genetic component of bipolar disorder. We are here to listen and figure out a treatment plan that will work best for you.
Can bipolar disorder be inherited through genetics? This common question can help us begin your healing journey today. Reach out to Advaita Integrated Medicine for the help you need to manage bipolar disorder and live a fulfilling life.
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