A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop bipolar disorder with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing bipolar disorder. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for bipolar disorder include:

  • Genetic factors— Bipolar disorder can run in families. There is a high likelihood that there is a genetic component to this disorder. Eighty to ninety percent of individuals with bipolar disorder have a relative with either depression or bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is not caused by one specific gene. It is caused by many genes that act together.
  • Medicines and conditions—Some medicines (such as corticosteroids, cancer medicines), several medical conditions (such as thyroid disease, vitamin deficiencies, end-stage renal disease), and certain neurological diseases (such as Parkinson's syndrome, dementia) may present with features of bipolar disorder. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made only when none of these conditions are present.