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Bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness)
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious medical illness that causes shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
Bipolar disorder often develops in a person's late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life.
A person may be having an episode of bipolar disorder if he or she has a number of manic or depressive symptoms for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least one or two weeks. Sometimes symptoms are so severe that the person cannot function normally at work, school, or home.
|Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include:||Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:|
- A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling "jumpy" or "wired"
- Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
- Being easily distracted
- Increasing goal-directed activities, such as taking on new projects
- Being restless
- Sleeping little
- Having an unrealistic belief in one's abilities
- Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable, high-risk behaviors, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments
- A long period of feeling worried or empty
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Feeling tired or "slowed down"
- Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Being restless or irritable
- Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide
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There is no cure for bipolar disorder. But proper treatment helps most people with bipolar disorder gain better control of their mood swings and related symptoms. This is also true for people with the most severe forms of the illness.
Because bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, people with the disorder need long-term treatment to keep control of bipolar symptoms. Treatment for bipolar disorder includes medication and psychotherapy.
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More information on Bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness)
Explore other publications and websites
- Accommodating Workers With Bipolar Disorder (Copyright © Job Accommodation Network) - This publication for employers suggests workplace accommodations that can be made for employees with bipolar disorder. The article discusses the issues that can affect these individuals, offers suggestions to employers, and provides a list of resources for further information.
- Bipolar Disorder - This publication provides information on bipolar disorder, the mood swings that accompany it, and where and how to receive treatment. It also lists organizations to contact for more information.
- Bipolar Disorder (Copyright © Depression and Bipolar Alliance) - This fact sheet describes the symptoms of bipolar disorder and links to information about the types of bipolar disorder and their treatments. It also contains links to brochures for the recently diagnosed and a mood tracking calendar.
- Bipolar Disorder (Copyright © National Alliance on Mental Illness) - This fact sheet briefly describes bipolar disorder, its symptoms, and its treatments. It links to fact sheets for different prescription medications used to treat bipolar disorder.
- Bipolar Disorder (Easy to Read) - This easy-to-read fact sheet describes what bipolar disorder is, when it starts, and how to get help.
- Bipolar Disorder and African Americans (Copyright © Mental Health America) - Many African-Americans with bipolar disorder are not getting the treatment they need. But with proper treatment, people can control bipolar mood swings and lead fulfilling lives. This fact sheet discusses the symptoms and treatments of bipolar disorder.
- Managing Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder (Copyright © National Alliance on Mental Illness) - This article summarizes the research that has been done on using medication to treat bipolar disorder during pregnancy.
- Mental Health Services Locator - This website will help you locate mental health treatment facilities and support services in your state.
- Myths and Facts About Depression and Bipolar Disorder (Copyright © Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) - This fact sheet dispels common myths about bipolar disorder and depression and provides the facts about these illnesses.
- What Are Bipolar Disorders? (Copyright © New York Online Access to Health) - This website provides links to online publications with in-depth information about Bipolar Disorder.
- What Helps and What Hurts: When Someone You Care About Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder (Copyright © Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) - People living with depression or bipolar disorder can have a hard time coping with feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, or worthlessness. This publication provides guidance on what to say to someone with depressive symptoms to help them cope and feel better.
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Content last updated: March 29, 2010.
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