WHAT IS BIPOLAR?
Bipolar disorder is a treatable illness
marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy, and behavior. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression because
a person's mood can alternate between the "pole", mania (highs) and depression (lows). The change in mood can last for hours,
days weeks, or months.
WHAT BIPOLAR IS NOT
Bipolar disorder is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness.
Bipolar disorder affects more than two million adult Americans. It usually begins in late adolescence,
often appearing as depression during teen years, althought it can start in early childhood or later in life.
number of men and women develope this illness. Men tend to begin with a manic episode, women with a depressive episode. Bipolar
disorder is found among all ages, races, ethnic goups, and social classes.
The illness tends to run in families and
appears to have a genetic link. Like depression and other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder can also negatively affect spouses,
partners, family members, friends, and co-workers.
TYPES OF BIPOLAR
Different types of bipolar disorder are
determined by patterns and severity of symptoms of highs and lows.
BIPOLAR I Disorder is characterized by one or more manic
episodes or mixed episodes---symptoms of both a mania and a depression occurring nearly every day for at least one week---and
one or more major depressive episodes.
Bipolar I disorder is the most severe form of the illness, marked by extreme
BIPOLAR II disorder is characterized by one or more depressive episodes accompanied by at least one
hypomanic episode. Hypomanic episodes have symptoms similar to manic episodes but are less severe, and must be clearly different
from a person's non-depressed mood.
CYCLOTHYMIC DISORDER is charactyerized by chronic fluctuating moods with periods
of hypomania and depression.The periods of of both depressive and hypomanic symptoms are shorter, less severe, and do not
occur with regularity as experienced with bipolar I or II. However, these mood swings can impair social interactions and work.
Many people with cyclothymia develop a more sever form of bipolar illness.
SYMPTOMS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing "highs" and "lows". These swings can be severe, ranging from extreme energy
to deep despair. The severity of the mood swings and the way they disprupt normal life activities distinguish bipolar mood
episodes from ordinary mood swings.
SYMPTOMS of MANIA:
# Increased physical and mental activity and energy
mood, exaggerated optimism, and self- confidence.
# Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
#Decreased need for
sleep without experiencing fatigue
#Racing speech, thoughts, and flight of ideas
# Increased sexual drive
SYMPTOMS of Depression:
# Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
# Significant changes in appetite
and sleep patterns
# Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety.
# Pessimism. loss of energy, persistent lethargy.
feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
# Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
# Recurring thoughts of death and suicide
COMMON IS BIPOLAR DISORDER IN CHILDREN?
Bipolar disorder is more likely to affect the children of parents who have
the disorfder. When one parent has bipolar disorder, the risk to each child is estimated to be 15- 30%. When both parents
have the ddisorder, the risk is 50 - 75%.
Symptoms may be difficult to recognize in children because they can be mistaken
for age-appropriate emotions and behaviors in children and adolescents. Symptoms may appear in a variety of behaviors.
to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to one-third of the 3.4 million children with depression in
the Unted States may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder.
TREATMENT for BIPOLAR DISORDER
therapies exist for bipolar disorder and promising new treatments are currently under investigation. Because bipolar disorder
can be difficult to treat, it is highly recommended that you consult a psychiatrist with experience in treating this illness.
Treatments may include medication, talk therapy, and supports groups, and a combination of all three.
is provided courtesy of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). For more information please call (800) 826-3632
or log on to www.DBSAlliance.org.