May also be called: Manic Depression; Manic-Depressive Disorder; Manic-Depressive
Illness; Bipolar Mood Disorder; Bipolar Affective Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disturbance characterized by episodes of low-energy
(symptoms include sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness) and high-energy mania (signs
include increased energy, sleep loss, and reckless behavior).
More to Know
Bipolar disorder is a type of depressive disorder, a medical condition that affects
the way a person's brain
functions. Someone with bipolar disorder will go through episodes of mania and at
other times experience episodes of depression.
Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes bipolar disorder, but they believe it's
linked to imbalances in certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. If the neurotransmitters
aren't in balance, the brain's mood-regulating system won't work the way it should.
Often, episodes of mania or depression last for weeks or months, but they can change
rapidly, even during the course of a day. During manic episodes, a person with bipolar
disorder may have increased energy and activity, an elevated mood, racing thoughts,
difficulty concentrating, and less need for sleep. He or she may also exhibit poor
judgment and engage in reckless or aggressive behavior.
Periods of depression are marked by a loss of energy, prolonged sadness, feelings
of guilt or worthlessness, sleeping and eating problems, and thoughts of death or
Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves the use of medications, such
as mood stabilizers, along with counseling or psychotherapy.
Keep in Mind
There's no cure for bipolar disorder, but most people who have it can be helped
if a psychiatrist or psychologist diagnoses the disorder. Without treatment, bipolar
disorder can get worse, but by following a treatment plan and making a few lifestyle
changes — such as reducing stress, eating well, and getting enough sleep and
exercise — people living with bipolar disorder can usually control their symptoms
and lead normal lives.
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