Have you ever asked yourself, "Is my bipolar disorder my fault?"  Maybe you have a supporter who has wondered if your bipolar disorder is your own fault.  If you have experienced this, then you are not alone.  Many people with bipolar disorder and their supporters have pondered this same thought.


Is bipolar disorder your fault?  Is there something you did to cause the disorder to manifest itself in you?  Did you somehow "catch" it like you can catch the common cold?  Of course not.  There is nothing you could have done or not done to prevent getting bipolar disorder – it was (and is) beyond your control, and certainly NOT your fault if you do have the disorder.


The cause of bipolar disorder is not exactly known, but what is considered the cause is twofold:  both a chemical imbalance in the brain and a genetic (hereditary) influence. 


Scientific studies have long shown that neurotransmitters in the brain are responsible for bipolar disorder in people.  In other words, they cite abnormal brain structure and brain function as the cause for a person getting bipolar disorder.  Research is now being conducted to discover the exact gene responsible for bipolar disorder so that a cure may be found.


Yet other studies have shown that people who have bipolar disorder also have close family ties to the disorder.  Research indicates that bipolar disorder is passed down through the family.


Inheritability is estimated anywhere from 50-80%.  Research shows that when bipolar disorder is present in the family, the other blood relatives stand a 10-20% chance of having the disorder as well. 


When one parent has bipolar disorder, the risk to each child is estimated to be between 15-30%.  When both parents have the disorder, the risk to each child increases to 50-75%.  One study indicates that 80% of children who have bipolar disorder come from families with a history of mood disorders and/or alcoholism on both sides of the family.


If you had a choice whether to have bipolar disorder or not, I don't think you would choose it, any more than a person would choose to have cancer.  Would you blame someone for getting cancer, or say that it is their fault?


Is bipolar disorder your fault?  I believe that research shows that it clearly is not.