is a bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as
manic depression, is an illness involving one or more episodes of serious mania
and depression. The illness causes a person’s mood to swing from excessively
“high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, with periods of a normal mood in
between. More than 10 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder typically begins in
adolescence or early adulthood, between the ages of 15 and 30, and continues
throughout life. It is often not recognized as an illness and people who have
it may suffer needlessly for years.
Bipolar disorder can be extremely
distressing and disruptive for those who have this disease, their spouses,
family members, friends and employers. Although there is no known cure, bipolar
disorder is treatable, and recovery is possible. Individuals with bipolar
disorder have successful relationships and meaningful jobs. The combination of
medications and psychotherapy helps the vast majority of people return to
productive, fulfilling lives.
things put a person at higher risk of experiencing a bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder affects about 10 million Americans.
Women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder, and it affects all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic
classes. Bipolar disorder usually
begins in adolescence or early adulthood.
No one knows for certain what causes bipolar illness, but its causes may
include brain chemistry, genetics, drug and/or alcohol abuse, and stressful or
disturbing events in one’s life.
bipolar disorders be treated? How?
Bipolar illness is treated in two ways: (a)
treating the immediate manic or depressive episode, and (b) continued
maintenance to prevent or reduce further episodes.
Bipolar disorder can be
is hope. People with bipolar disorder can be helped by treatment. Treatment can
Care such as exercise, stress
reduction classes and other activities
If you think that you or someone you
know has bipolar disorder, talk with your primary care provider or Student
Health Services. Only a mental health
professional can tell if a person has bipolar disorder and properly treat it.
Once in treatment, it is important that the person receive the support and
understanding of friends and family.
does a bipolar disorder progress?
disorder affects persons clinically, functionally, and financially. Multiple episodes (4 or more in a lifetime)
are the rule, although there is no typical pattern to episode recurrence. Manic and depressive episodes can last from 4
to 13 months, with depressive episodes typically lasting longer. Most often bipolar illness continues
throughout a person’s lifetime.
people with bipolar disorder get better?
individuals with bipolar disorder a good prognosis results from good treatment, which, in turn, results
from an accurate diagnosis. Because bipolar
disorder can have a high rate of both under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis, it is often difficult for individuals with the
condition to receive timely and competent treatment.
Bipolar disorder can be a severely
disabling medical condition. However,
many individuals with bipolar disorder can live full and satisfying lives. Quite often, medication is needed to enable
this. Persons with bipolar disorder may
have periods of normal or near normal functioning between episodes.
Teaching patients coping strategies when noticing symptoms has shown encouraging results.
Bipolar disorder can cause suicidal
ideation that leads to suicidal attempts. One
out of three people with bipolar disorder report past attempts of suicide or
complete it, and the annual average suicide rate is 10 to 20 times that of the
disorder can be severe and long-term, or it can be mild with infrequent
episodes. Patients with the disease may experience symptoms in very different
ways. A typical patient with bipolar disorder averages 8 - 10 manic or
depressive episodes over a lifetime. However, some people experience more and
some fewer episodes.
· If you were in physical pain, you’d see a doctor to find out what’s wrong. Your mental health is just as important. Learn more here about how to check yourself, from getting a mental health screening to visiting a counseling center. You can use the anonymous Self Evaluator to learn if a treatable mental health problem, including bipolar disorder, could be affecting you or a friend. Be proactive about your mental health: it’s the first step to feeling better. http://www.ulifeline.org/check_yourself
· National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Bipolar1/Home_-_What_is_Bipolar_Disorder_.htm
· Mental Health America. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/bipolar-disorder
· Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale. Use this brief online scale to help you determine if you may need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment of mania and/or bipolar illness: http://psychology-tools.com/altman-self-rating-mania-scale/
· The United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) mission is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care. They do that by advancing the science and practice of symptom management; developing effective, practical, personalized strategies for promoting health and well-being; and enabling better evidence-based decision making regarding CAM use and its integration into health care and health promotion. Information available there about complementary and alternative treatments for bipolar disorders, for example, can be found at http://nccam.nih.gov/taxonomy/term/353.