To answer the question of how you get bipolar disorder, first you need to know how you DON'T get the disorder.  For example, you can't "catch" it from being around someone else who has it, which some people believe.


You don't get bipolar disorder because of anything you do, like using drugs or alcohol when you were younger.


You also don't get it by having another disease that you think may have led into bipolar disorder.


According to research I've done for my website devoted to bipolar disorder, the causes of bipolar disorder are generally thought to be twofold: a chemical imbalance in the brain and heredity.


There has been much research done in the past as to why bipolar disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and this research has determined which chemicals are involved, but not the reason why it affects some people and not others.


Bipolar disorder has been shown to run in families.  If one parent has bipolar disorder, the child has a strong chance of having the disorder as well.  If both parents have the disorder, the child will most likely get it also. 


On the other hand, just because bipolar disorder does run in the family, it does not guarantee that the child will get the disorder.


The more generations that have been effected by bipolar disorder, the greater the risk for the present and future generations to get the disorder.


If someone does get bipolar disorder, the symptoms will probably appear in their late teens or early twenties; however, symptoms have also been known to begin as early as toddlerhood.


Both men and women have the same chance of getting bipolar disorder.