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What causes bipolar disorder?

The latest research suggests that there is no single cause of bipolar disorder, but that several key factors interact with one another. Genetics,childhood development, life stress and brain biology all appear to have a significant role in the development of the illness. Current knowledge suggests the emergence of a model that encompasses both ‘nurture’ and ‘nature’  explanations, or put in other words, the environmental and thebiological. It appears possible, if not probable, that an individual is born with a genetic predisposition to develop bipolar disorder. However, this predisposition is not confined to a single gene but a complex combination of inherited factors that is as yet undefined, and requires ‘switchingon’ as the individual matures into adolescence or early adulthood.

While we are still many years away from being able to draw an accurate picture of how brain structure and biochemistry is implicated in causing bipolar disorder, there remains the possibility that brain abnormalities may be determined by genetic factors, although current research is unable to determine whether these abnormalities exist prior to the emergence of symptoms or have emerged subsequent to the development of the illness.

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