Conditions InDepth: Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a treatable illness that causes extreme swings in mood, thought, energy, and behavior. There are often periods of normal mood between episodes. This medical problem is not due to personal weakness or a character flaw.
The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are different from the average ups and downs of everyday life and are often associated with psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, or disorders of thought. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even
Bipolar disorder affects an estimated 2.6% of American adults (18 and older). The condition typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, some people have their first symptoms during childhood, and some develop symptoms late in life. Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.
The cause is not known. Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Specific genes may play a role, but it is not caused by one single gene. Additional factors, possibly stressors at home, work, or school, are believed to be involved in its onset.
People with bipolar disorder are at increased risk for suicide,
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Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bipolar.cfm . Updated April 2008. Accessed on June 15, 2008.
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The numbers count: mental disorders in America. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america.shtml#Bipolar . Updated June 2008. Accessed September 9, 2008.
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