Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, often called manic depression, is one of the major mood disorders and is distinguished by behavior that fluctuates from extreme highs (mania) to serious lows (depression) interspersed with periods of “normal” mood. Simply put, a person who suffers from the condition is unable to keep a sense of calm about his or her life.

Mania is a term used a lot these days (like “basketball mania”), but in medicine, mania refers to behavior that includes profuse and rapidly changing ideas, exaggerated sexuality, extreme gaiety, intense irritability, and decreased sleep.

Depression is used frequently to describe a feeling of sadness. With bipolar disorder, however, the lows of depression are characterized by extreme hopelessness and a feeling of worthlessness accompanied by thoughts of suicide.

Manic depression typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life. Because manic and depressive episodes may be less extreme in the early stages, or if a person has periods of mild mania, the disorder, unfortunately, is often not recognized for years or even decades.

Become familiar with the bipolar facts provided on this site so that you or someone you love won’t suffer needlessly. Effective treatments greatly alleviate the suffering caused by manic depression and can usually prevent its devastating complications.

Left untreated, major mood disorders often lead to divorce, job loss, substance abuse, and suicide.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Researchers agree that bipolar disorder has no single cause, but is rather a combination of factors. The findings strongly suggest an inborn vulnerability to the disorder interacting with an environmental trigger. This idea is similar to theories about the cause of other medical conditions, such as heart disease.

Some researchers believe that bipolar disorder is caused by biochemical instability in the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain triggered by an upsetting life experience, substance abuse, lack of sleep, or other excessive stimulation.

And finally, the bipolar facts indicate that genetic inheritance is also a possible cause of bipolar disorder and other major mood disorders.

Bipolar Facts

  • Two million Americans suffer from manic depression.
  • Bipolar disorder affects women and men almost equally.
  • Bipolar disorder tends to run in families and may be inherited.
  • Family members of people with bipolar disorder also suffer.
  • Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme highs and lows.
  • Only about one-third of bipolars seek treatment.
  • Living With Bipolar DisorderNo magic cure, no surefire end to major mood disorders exists, but you can live a pleasant and fulfilling life. In addition to taking medication, you can make minor lifestyle choices that strengthen your ability to cope with your disorder and to avoid episodes. Become an Expert on Your Illness Read books, attend lectures, talk ... Read more
  • Bipolar Disorder TreatmentAs with heart disease and other medical conditions, bipolar disorder treatment focuses on taking the right medications and making lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of episodes. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with the right combination of medication, psychotherapy and social/emotional support. If left untreated, bipolar disorder tends to worsen, and the person ... Read more
  • Bipolar Disorder DiagnosisWithout a professional diagnosis, symptoms of bipolar I or bipolar II disorder can be difficult to track and may be invisible except to those who know the person very well. In the early stages of the disorder, manic depression behavior may actually appear as a different problem: substance abuse, changes in sleep patterns, strained relationships, ... Read more
  • Symptoms of Bipolar DisorderMore than just mood swings, bipolar disorder symptoms range from elation or irritability (highs) to sadness and hopelessness (lows), and back again.

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