Bipolar Patients More Than Twice As Likely to Have Suffered Childhood Adversity

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Credit to user Zach Korb. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

A new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry looking at more than thirty years into bipolar disorder research found that people with the disorder are 2.63 times more likely to have suffered adversity as children than the general population.

Adversity is defined here as emotional, sexual, or physical abuse, or the loss of a parent before the age of nineteen. While the loss of a parent did not raise the risk of a bipolar diagnosis significantly, people who were emotionally abused were more than four times as likely to have a subsequent diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

The study, run by researchers at the University of Manchester, gathered data from millions of patient interviews in nineteen studies between 1980 and 2014. The authors of the study believed that bipolar disorder had a similar link to childhood adversity like schizophrenia, and does not just stem from bio-genetics.

The hope that the researchers have is that specialized therapy plans can be put into place for people who have suffered childhood abuse, and that future diagnoses can take into account personal histories.

Author: Cassandra Stout

Freelance writer Cassandra Stout blogs weekly at the award-winning Bipolar Parent, a comprehensive resource for parents with mental illnesses. She also blogs monthly at the International Bipolar Foundation website ( Her work has been published in the anthology, How the Light Gets In. Cassandra holds degrees from the University of Arizona in Creative Writing and Journalism. She has been a judge for the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association literary contest for nine years, where her memoir, Committed, recently placed as a finalist. She balances her literary work with raising her children, feeding her cat, and managing her bipolar disorder.

10 thoughts on “Bipolar Patients More Than Twice As Likely to Have Suffered Childhood Adversity”

  1. This makes a lot of sense actually and explains how bipolar disorder can just show up in a family out of nowhere with no family history. Thank you for sharing this information.

  2. Very interesting study! (Also it’s heartbreaking to learn of these conclusions.) You’re doing such a great job at locating important studies that not everyone knows about. Findings such as this one help those of us with bipolar disorder make more sense out of the evolution of our mental illness.

    1. Thank you, Dyane! I appreciate your comments. The causes of bipolor disorder need to be researched far more than they have been. You’re absolutely right about the findings.

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