B i p o l a r   D i s o r d e r

W e b   P a g e s      

      Bipolar Index      
  Bipolar Disorder Overview
  What Is Bipolar Disorder?
      Bipolar Children and Teens    
      Bipolar and Women    
      ADHD or Bipolar?    
  Causes  
 

Are You at Risk?

 
  Does bipolar disorder run in families?
  Prevention
  What are bipolar disorder symptoms?
  What are symptoms of bipolar depression?
  What are symptoms of bipolar mania?
  How is bipolar disorder treated?  
  Can behavioral counseling help those with bipolar disorder?
  Can bipolar disorder be cured?
Bipolar Disorder Overview
Bipolar disorder, with its extreme mood swings from depression to mania, used to be called manic depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is very serious and can cause risky behavior, even suicidal tendencies, and can be treated with therapy and medication.
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What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that is characterized by extreme changes in mood, from mania to depression. It can lead to risky behavior, damaged relationships and careers, and even suicidal tendencies if it's not treated.
 
Bipolar Children and Teens
Although bipolar disorder is more common in older teenagers and young adults, it can affect children as young as 6. Some experts believe the condition is rare and over-diagnosed; others disagree.
 
Bipolar and Women
In general, women tend to experience more periods of depression than men, research shows. Women are also at higher risk for rapid cycling, which means having four or more mood episodes in one year.
 
ADHD or Bipolar?
Bipolar disorder and ADHD are being diagnosed more often in American children and teens. There are some similarities in symptoms, so how can a doctor know for sure if the child has bipolar disorder or ADHD?
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Causes

Though the exact cause of bipolar disorder has yet to be found, scientists confirm that bipolar disorder has a genetic component, meaning the disorder can run in families. Some research suggests that multiple factors may interact to produce abnormal function of brain circuits that results in bipolar disorder's symptoms of major depression and mania. Examples of environmental factors may include stress, alcohol or substance abuse, and lack of sleep.

Doctors don't completely understand the causes of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder often runs in families, and researchers believe there is a genetic component.

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Are You at Risk?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is an illness in which a person has periods of high mood and energy and other times of depression. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder usually have one or more major depressive episodes along with one or more manic or mixed episodes.

Bipolar mania is a prolonged state (at least one week at a time) of extreme elation or agitation accompanied by excessive energy. Symptoms of the manic "highs" include increased energy, racing thoughts and fast speech, excessive talkativeness, distractibility, reckless and aggressive behavior, grandiose thoughts, decreased need for sleep, feelings of invincibility, sexual inappropriateness including infidelity, excessive spending, and exaggerated self-confidence.

Bipolar depression is a prolonged state (at least 2 weeks at a time) of low energy levels and sadness or irritability. Symptoms of the bipolar depression may include a pessimistic attitude, social withdrawal, thoughts of death or suicide, extreme sadness, and irritability.

Manic or depressive symptoms also sometime co-occur as part of the same episode.  For example, someone may have symptoms of both. When this happens, the episode is said to have ''mixed features.''

The term "rapid cycling" is used not to describe rapid shifts in mood from one moment to the next, but rather, a pattern that occurs when the patient has four or more distinct episodes of major depression, mania, and/or mixed features within one year. The length of time that the mood switches may range from days to months.

More than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally, as well as all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes.

Although men and women appear to be equally affected by bipolar disorder, rapid cycling is seen more often in women. Women also tend to experience more depressive and mixed state episodes than do men. A man's first experience with bipolar disorder may be in a manic state; women tend to first experience a depressive state.

Bipolar disorder can present itself at any age, but typically onset occurs around age 25.

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Does bipolar disorder run in families?

Numerous studies have found that people with bipolar typically have at least one close relative with the disorder.

Children who have one parent with the disorder have about a 10%-25% chance of developing the disorder themselves; children with two parents with the disorder have a 10%-50% chance. If a non-identical twin sibling has the disorder, the chance that another sibling will have it is about 10%-25%.

About 5.7 million U.S. adults are living with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally, as well as all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes.

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Prevention

Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is a mental health disorder that is distinguished by dramatic changes in a person's mood and energy, from the elated highs of mania to the lows of depression. Bipolar disorder affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and usually has its onset in late adolescence or young adulthood. We know that genetics can play a role in the vulnerability to bipolar disorder, as researchers have traced the incidence of bipolar disorder among generations of families.

While bipolar disorder cannot be prevented, it's important to be aware of early warning signs of an impending episode of bipolar depression or bipolar mania. Early recognition of bipolar warning signs and seeing your doctor regularly can allow you to monitor your mood and medications and keep illness from escalating.

In fact, although treating bipolar disorder moods is critical, there is a convincing case supported by scientific studies that the prevention of further mood episodes should be the greatest goal.

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What are bipolar disorder symptoms?
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can fall between two extreme mood states:
  1. Bipolar depression, which includes feelings of being sad, hopeless, helpless, and worthless
  2. Bipolar mania, which includes feelings of elation and exuberance coupled with increased energy and activity and little need for sleep.
In addition, people with bipolar disorder can have manic episodes that occur simultaneously with depressive symptoms or vice versa. The simultaneous occurrence of depressive symptoms and manic episodes is known as "mixed features."
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What are symptoms of bipolar depression?

Symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder may consist of the following:

  • Depressed mood and low self-esteem
  • Excessive crying spells
  • Low energy levels and an apathetic view of life
  • Sadness, loneliness, helplessness, feelings of guilt
  • Slow speech, fatigue, and poor coordination and concentration
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Thoughts of suicide or dying
  • Changes in appetite (overeating/not eating)
  • Unexplainable body aches and pains
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities
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What are symptoms of bipolar mania? 

  • Euphoria or irritability
  • Excessive talking; racing thoughts
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Unusual energy; less need for sleep
  • Impulsiveness, a reckless pursuit of gratification -- shopping sprees, impetuous travel, more and sometimes promiscuous sex, high-risk business investments, fast driving
  • Hallucinations and or delusions (psychotic features such as these may be involved in about one out of every two of cases of bipolar mania)
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How is bipolar disorder treated?

Bipolar disorder is treated with medications to stabilize mood. If the mood stabilizers do not fully manage the symptoms, other medications may be added to help calm the mania or ease the depression.

Along with mood stabilizers, psychotherapy is recommended to help the patient develop appropriate and workable coping strategies to deal with everyday stressors and to increase medication compliance.

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Can behavioral counseling help those with bipolar disorder?

Different types of talk therapy options are available to help those with bipolar disorder prevent or cope with a mood episode:

  • Individual Counseling: This is a one-on-one session with a professional therapist with experience in bipolar disorders in which the patient's problem areas are addressed. The session may include help accepting the diagnosis, education about bipolar moods, ways to identify warning signs, and intervention strategies to manage stress.
  • Family Counseling: Bipolar disorder extends beyond the patient and can affect the entire family. Families are frequently involved in outpatient therapy as they receive education about bipolar disorder and work with the therapist and patient to learn how to recognize early warnings of an impending manic or depressive episode.
  • Group Counseling: Group sessions allow for the sharing of feelings and the development of effective coping strategies. The give-and-take at group sessions can be the most productive way to change the way you think about bipolar disorder and improve coping skills as you face life's challenges.
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Can bipolar disorder be cured?

There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but through behavior therapy and the right combination of mood stabilizers and other bipolar medicines, most people with bipolar disorder can live normal, productive lives. That said, bipolar disorder is a lifelong mental illness that has a great risk of recurrent episodes. Being compliant to taking prescribed medications and keeping doctor appointments is crucial to self-managing bipolar disorder and preventing serious episodes.

In addition, there are support groups available for patients and their family members to help them talk openly and learn how to support someone with bipolar disorder. Ongoing encouragement and support are needed after a person starts treatment. In fact, there are findings showing that the availability of social support systems increases the chances of employment in patients with bipolar disorder compared with those patients without support.

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