What Can Trigger a Bipolar Episode?

Bipolar Disorder TreatmentBipolar Disorder is a genetic condition but it may not express itself even if you carry the gene(s) for it. It is widely believed that a triggering event in the environment coupled with a genetic predisposition towards the illness is needed for the disorder to express itself. The disorder can remain dormant for many years. Although it often begins to rear its ugly head in late adolescence.

After the initial trigger(s) activate the genes and the illness, it then presents as major mood swings that come and go over varying periods of time. These are called episodes. Every individual has their own unique triggers that can activate  an episode. Although everyone is different and there are a variety of manifestations of the illness, many of the triggers are common and shared. For example, lack of sleep is often a trigger for a manic episode.

Again, even though the illness has a strong genetic component thought of as the underlying cause of the disease it may take a triggering event for the Bipolar Disorder to actually manifest itself. Trauma can trigger the disorder as well as travelling to a different time zone. Other common triggers include stress, hormones, and even taking street drugs. I’ve found that mood stabilizing medications are the key to keeping the episodes from recurring so quickly, and key to keeping them less intense and shorter in duration.

5 Responses to “What Can Trigger a Bipolar Episode?”

  1. Bill R says:

    My wife has been diagnosed twice with BP, axis I and diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Very difficult to live and deal with. She joined up with this MLM operation and had grandiose ideas of making millions (she cant hold a job for more than 2 months at a time). Could this type of environment trigger episodes to include infidelity? Any feedback on what to do. She wont take meds or acknowledge her problem.

  2. J says:

    Hi, my wife is currently in hospital following a third manic episode (first 6 years ago). I love my wife, but struggle with her manic behaviours, brought on by not sticking with the meds. First episode she tried to have affairs but I thwarted them by monitoring her emails – she even knew I monitored them, but her manic brain still led her towards infidelity right there in front of me. Our kids have advocated divorce, but I am reluctant to abandon her – after all is said and done she has an illness, that can be treated, she just needs to stick with the meds. Infidelity is a definite possibility with mania. Only two choices really – ride it out supporting her loved one and do everything possible to prevent infidelity and the usual round-up of bad things which occur during mania or turn your back and give up on her. For now, I’m sticking with ‘in sickness and in health’ and just hope this latest hospitalisation will cause my wife to forever take her meds.

    • Lisa says:

      If I had a dollar for every time I said in sickness and health to excuse his behavior against me. But after he completely destroyed our familyl, moved in with his affair that vow is long gone. Don’t wait for her. She already broke her vows so they don’t stand anymore. It will only get worse with age. If she is not doing everything possible to stay stable. Medication, therapy no alcohol or drugs. If she doesn’t do everything possible the vows are broken. 90% divorce rate is not a joke.

      • JR says:

        I’ve stayed with my husband for 27 years through multiple manic episodes. Yes, they do get worse with age. He refuses to medicate or to include me in any type of support for recognizing his triggers. He’s 72 years old and will probably never change. I’ve got 10 years on him and have decided that it’s time for me to live my life. The narcissistic, egocentric manic personality will drain the life out of a loved one who is willing to put their own needs aside. After leaving and returning a number of times, I finally realize that I have been the crazy one for repeating the same unhealthy pattern over and over again…all in the name of love. Now is my time.

        • Luann says:

          Take good care of yourself and enjoy the rest of your life without the impact of dealing with someone who will not get help or take medication.


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