Bipolar disorder is a complex mental illness that affects about 2% of the population. The most telltale sign of bipolar is the shifting in mood between periods of sickening lows (sadness, hopelessness) to periods of exhilarating highs (elation, high energy), with normal mood in between.
Who gets bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder isn’t fussy. It can afflict anybody and like so many mental illnesses, we really don’t know why some people are struck by it and some people aren’t. What we do know is that bipolar has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence, character or personality. It has a physiological basis, but it expresses itself through emotion, behaviour and mood.
Researchers have identified small variations in a number of genes that are closely connected to an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder. A family history of bipolar seems to be the greatest risk factor, but it’s important to remember that most people who have the family history will never go on to develop the illness.