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Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder facts

  • Bipolar disorder, also commonly called manic depression, is characterized by mood swings and repeated episodes of depression with at least one episode of mania.
  • Bipolar disorder afflicts up to 4 million people in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • The suicide rate for people with bipolar disorder is 60 times higher than in the general public.
  • Bipolar disorder was conceptualized by Emil Kraeplin more than 100 years ago, but its symptoms were first described as long ago as 200 A.D.
  • Bipolar disorder has a number of types, including bipolar I and bipolar II disorder based on the severity of symptoms, and may be described as mixed or rapid cycling based on the duration and frequency of episodes.
  • As with most other mental disorders, bipolar disorder is not directly passed from one generation to another genetically but is thought to be the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors.
  • The adolescent with bipolar disorder is more likely to exhibit depression and mixed episodes, with rapid changes in mood.
  • Symptoms of bipolar disorder in women tend to include more depression and anxiety as well as a rapid-cycling pattern compared to symptoms in men.
  • Since there is no one test that definitively indicates that someone has bipolar disorder, health-care professionals diagnose this disease by gathering comprehensive medical, family, and mental-health information in addition to performing physical and mental-health evaluations.
  • Treatment of bipolar disorder with medications tends to relieve already existing symptoms of mania or depression and prevent symptoms from returning.
  • Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is an important part of helping individuals with bipolar disorder achieve the highest level of functioning possible.
  • When treating individuals with bipolar disorder who are pregnant or nursing, health-care professionals take great care to balance the need to maintain the person's stable mood and behavior while minimizing the risks that medications used to treat this disorder may present.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2014

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Bipolar Disorder (Mania) - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for your bipolar disorder (mania)?
Bipolar Disorder - Symptoms Question: What symptoms do you experience with your bipolar disorder?
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Bipolar Disorder - Diagnosis Question: What tests and assessments led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in you or a relative?
Bipolar Disorder - Support Question: What forms of support have helped you or a relative who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
Bipolar Disorder - Types Question: Describe your type of bipolar disorder, along with your symptoms and treatment.

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