Bipolar Disorder

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder in Children
Mood Disorder Questionnaire
Resource

Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a treatable illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression because a person’s mood can alternate between the "poles" mania (highs) and depression (lows). This change in mood or "mood swing" can last for hours, days weeks or months.

Bipolar disorder affects more than two million adult Americans. It usually begins in late adolescence (often appearing as depression during teen years) although it can start in early childhood or later in life. An equal number of men and women develop this illness (men tend to begin with a manic episode, women with a depressive episode) and it is found among all ages, races, ethnic groups 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 and partners, family members, friends and coworkers.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar disorder differs significantly from clinical depression, although the symptoms for the depressive phase of the illness are similar. Most people who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing "highs" and "lows" – the highs are periods of mania, the lows periods of depression. These swings can be severe, ranging from extreme energy to deep despair. The severity of the mood swings and the way they disrupt normal life activities distinguish bipolar mood episodes from ordinary mood changes.

Symptoms of mania - the "highs" of bipolar disorder

Symptoms of depression - the "lows" of bipolar disorder

If you or someone you know has thoughts of death or suicide, contact a medical professional, clergy member, loved one, friend or hospital emergency room or call 911 immediately.

You cannot diagnose yourself. Only a properly trained health professional can determine if you have bipolar disorder. Our online self-assessment can help you communicate your symptoms to your health care professional.

Many people do not seek medical attention during periods of mania because they feel manic symptoms (increased energy, heightened mood, increased sexual drive, etc.) have a positive impact on them. However, left unchecked, these behaviors can have harmful results.

When symptoms of mania are left untreated, they can lead to illegal or life-threatening situations because mania often involves impaired judgment and reckless behavior. Manic behaviors vary from person to person. All symptoms should be discussed with your doctor.

Treatments for Bipolar Disorder


Several therapies exist for bipolar disorder and promising new treatments are currently under investigation. Because bipolar disorder can be difficult treat, it is highly recommended that you consult a psychiatrist or a general practitioner with experience in treating this illness. Your treatment may include medications and talk therapy.

Bipolar Disorder in Children


Bipolar disorder is more likely to affect the children of parents who have the disorder. When one parent has bipolar disorder, the risk to each child is estimated to be 15-30%. When both parents have bipolar disorder, the risk increases to 50-75%.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder may be difficult to recognize in children, as they can be mistaken for age-appropriate emotions and behaviors of children and adolescents. Symptoms of mania and depression may appear in a variety of behaviors. When manic, children and adolescents, in contrast to adults, are more likely to be irritable and prone to destructive outbursts than to be elated or euphoric. When depressed, there may be complaints of headaches, stomach aches, tiredness, poor performance in school, poor communication and extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure.

The treatment of bipolar disorder in children is based on experience in treating adults with the illness, since very few studies have been done of the effectiveness and safety of the medications in children and adolescents. It is important to find a doctor that is well-versed in treating this illness in children and one that you work closely with throughout the course of treatment.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to one-third of the 3.4 million children and adolescents with depression in the United States may actually be experiencing the early onset of bipolar disorder.
Source: http://www.dbsalliance.org/info/bipolar.html

Mood Disorder Questionnaire


This questionnaire was developed to help you recognize the signs of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a complicated illness and no single questionnaire or test can be used to accurately diagnose this illness. Accurate diagnosis is obtained only through a thorough evaluation with a physician. This questionnaire is a good first step in discovering if you might have this illness but it is not meant to take the place of an evaluation by a physician or a mental health professional. www.dbsalliance.org/questionnaire/screening.asp  

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