If you have a child with bipolar disorder--periods of manic and depressive moods swings--you may find yourself wondering why this has happened and where this disorder has come from. Though the exact cause is unknown, there is a lot of research that points to contributing factors.
Since bipolar disorder seems to runs in families, there has been much research to determine whether there is a genetic factor that causes this disorder. Twin studies have revealed that genetics are a factor in this disorder, but do not alone determine whether a person will develop bipolar disorder.
A child's environment is a strong factor in determining mental health and therefore may be a cause of bipolar disorder in a child that has a predisposition for it. For example, children raised in poverty are more likely than middle- and upper- middle-class children to suffer from mental illness.
Brain scans of children with bipolar disorder show that development is different than children without this disorder. Research is being conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health to understand whether these differences are a result of a difference in brain structure or a result of the disorder.
Stress has been shown to be a contributing factor in the development of bipolar disorder. Children who suffer from an anxiety disorder are more likely to develop bipolar disorder.
Understanding the causes of manic or depressive episodes is important for understanding bipolar disorder. Certain events that can trigger these episodes, varying from the death of a loved one or parent, to the use of mind-altering substances and high-stress environments.
"The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide;" David J. Miklowitz, Ph.D; 2002
National Institute of Mental Health: ipolar Disorder in Children and Teens