Information for Patients
Also called: Manic-depressive illness
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. People who have it go through unusual mood changes. They go from very happy, "up," and active to very sad and hopeless, "down," and inactive, and then back again. They often have normal moods in between. The up feeling is called mania. The down feeling is depression.
The causes of bipolar disorder aren't always clear. It runs in families. Abnormal brain structure and function may also play a role.
Bipolar disorder often starts in a person's late teen or early adult years. But children and adults can have bipolar disorder too. The illness usually lasts a lifetime.
If you think you may have it, tell your health care provider. A medical checkup can rule out other illnesses that might cause your mood changes.
If not treated, bipolar disorder can lead to damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. However, there are effective treatments to control symptoms: medicine and talk therapy. A combination usually works best.
NIH: National Institute of Mental Health
- Bipolar disorder (Medical Encyclopedia)
Bipolar disorder Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and behavior. This disorder most often appears in late adolescence or early adulthood, although symptoms can begin at any time of life.People with bipolar disorder experience both dramatic "highs," called manic episodes, and "lows," called depressive episodes. These episodes can last from hours to weeks, and many people have no symptoms between episodes. Manic episodes are characterized by increased energy and activity, irritability, restlessness, an inability to sleep, and reckless behavior. Depressive episodes are marked by low energy and activity, a feeling of hopelessness, and an inability to perform everyday tasks. People with bipolar disorder often have repeated thoughts of death and suicide, and they have a much greater risk of dying by suicide than the general population.Manic and depressive episodes can include psychotic symptoms, such as false perceptions (hallucinations) or strongly held false beliefs (delusions). Mixed episodes, which have features of manic and depressive episodes at the same time, also occur in some affected individuals.Bipolar disorder often occurs with other mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders (such as panic attacks), behavioral disorders (such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and substance abuse.