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Bipolar Disorder

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depression, is a mental illness characterized by periods of extreme moods that swing between two opposite poles:

Mania, which is characterized by exaggerated euphoria, irritability, or both. Depression, which is characterized by overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of pleasure. It usually develops in a person’s mid-teens or early adult years but can affect people of all ages. With proper treatment, many patients are able to control their mood swings. Untreated bipolar disorder can lead to many serious problems, including substance abuse, financial crises, interpersonal difficulties, and increased risk of suicide. Types of bipolar disorder

The American Psychiatric Association classifies bipolar disorder according to the pattern and severity of the symptoms. The main types of bipolar disorder are:

Bipolar disorder I. Bipolar disorder I is marked by manic episodes that are preceded or followed by hypomania or depressive episodes. (Hypomania is mild mania; the euphoric symptoms are less severe and do not last as long.) Mania is defined as a period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood accompanied by increased goal-directed activity or energy. These changes in mood and energy last at least 1 week and are present most of the day, nearly every day. Mania can have significant negative effects (such as sexual recklessness, excessive and impulsive shopping, and sudden traveling) on a patient's social life, performance at work, or both. Untreated mania lasts at least a week, and can last for several months. Depressive episodes tend to last 6 to 12 months, if left untreated. Bipolar disorder II. Bipolar disorder II is characterized by episodes of predominantly major depressive symptoms, with occasional episodes of hypomania, which last for at least 4 days. Patients with bipolar disorder II do not experience pure manic episodes but have significantly more depressive episodes, and shorter periods of being well between episodes than patients with bipolar disorder I. Bipolar II disorder is highly associated with increased risk for suicide. Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder is not as severe as either bipolar disorder II or I but the condition is more chronic. Hypomanic symptoms tend toward irritability as compared to the more euphoric symptoms of bipolar II. The disorder lasts at least 2 years, with single episodes persisting for more than 2 months. Cyclothymic disorder may be a precursor to full-blown bipolar disorder or it may continue as a low-grade chronic condition. Other specified bipolar disorder and related disorders . Bipolar disorder that does not meet the full criteria for one of the above categories is grouped into this category. Examples include people who have experienced major depressive episodes alternating with short hypomanic episodes that lasted only a few days.
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The symptoms may have been evident for years; symptoms that often mimic those of ADHD, depression and substance abuse. Your child may have been treated for one or more of these disorders, yet the treatments weren’t effective. It is frightening when your child’s final diagnosis is bipolar disorder. It may also be a relief. Finally, ... more
With about 5.7 American adults currently affected with bipolar disorder, scientists are conducting new studies on genetic factors and other risk factors for the disorder. These studies are aimed at determining differences in brain chemistry in those who have the disorder and finding ways to treat and/or prevent it. Much focus lies on determining gene mutations that may put a person at risk, along with the effects of certain medications on neurons that. With a better understanding of bipolar disorder, it is possible that better, more effective treatments are on the horizon.
Relationships can be stressful. When you are in a relationship with a person who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it can be overwhelming. During manic times you are always conscious of risks associated with dare-devil behavior; during depressive times, you may feel left out as your mate or child retreats into their own little cocoon of misery and loneliness. Implusive behavior can make socializing extremely difficult, and poor judgement can cause a spouse to lose their job, which adds an extra burden to a family already coping with so much. Bipolar disorder can, quite literally, break a relationship without help and support.