If a person already suffers from anxiety, or other mental illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or social phobia, they may have a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder, according to the NIH. In addition, simply going through stressful experiences, or moments of grief, can increase a person’s risk for bipolar disorder.
This may perhaps explain why 11 to 39 percent of bipolar patients also meet criteria for PTSD. Whether PTSD is a direct cause of bipolar disorder or vice versa, however, isn’t completely understood. It’s possible that traumatic experiences in childhood, such as physical or sexual abuse, can lead to bipolar disorder; but it’s also possible that someone with bipolar disorder might be more likely to be exposed to traumatic experiences during a manic episode and thus develop PTSD later as a result of bipolar disorder.
In addition, studies have shown that children with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop bipolar later on. But it’s important to recognize that ADHD and bipolar disorder are not the same; people often confuse the symptoms of one for the other.