Bipolar Disorder: What you need to know. What is 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 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout
life. It is often not recognized as an illness and people who have it may suffer needlessly for
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.
“Bipolar disorder is treatable, and recovery is possible.” What causes bipolar disorder?
Although a specific genetic link to bipolar disorder has not been found, studies show that 80 to
90 percent of those who suffer from bipolar disorder have relatives with some form of
It is also possible that people may inherit a tendency to develop the illness, which can then be
triggered by environmental factors such as distressing life events.
The presence of bipolar disorder indicates a biochemical imbalance which alters a person’s
moods. This imbalance is thought to be caused by irregular hormone production or to a problem
with certain chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, that act as messengers to our
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is often difficult to recognize and diagnose. It causes a person to have a high
level of energy, unrealistically expansive thoughts or ideas, and impulsive or reckless behavior.
These symptoms may feel good to a person, which may lead to denial that there is a problem.
Another reason bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose is that its symptoms may appear to be
part of another illness or attributed to other problems such as substance abuse, poor school
performance, or trouble in the workplace.
Symptoms of mania
The symptoms of mania, which can last up to three months if untreated, include:
Excessive energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts and rapid talking Denial that anything is wrong Extreme “high” or euphoric feelings -- a person may feel “on top of the world” and
nothing, including bad news or tragic events, can change this “happiness.”
Easily irritated or distracted. Decreased need for sleep – an individual may last for days with little or no sleep without
Unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability and powers -- a person may experience feelings of
exaggerated confidence or unwarranted optimism. This can lead to over ambitious work plans and the belief that nothing can stop him or her from accomplishing any task.
Uncharacteristically poor judgment -- a person may make poor decisions which may lead
to unrealistic involvement in activities, meetings and deadlines, reckless driving, spending sprees and foolish business ventures.
Sustained period of behavior that is different from usual -- a person may dress and/or act
differently than he or she usually does, become a collector of various items, become indifferent to personal grooming, become obsessed with writing, or experience delusions.
Unusual sexual drive Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol or sleeping medications Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior -- a person may become enraged or
paranoid if his or her grand ideas are stopped or excessive social plans are refused.
Symptoms of Depression
Some people experience periods of normal mood and behavior following a manic phase,
however, the depressive phase will eventually appear. Symptoms of depression include:
Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood Sleeping too much or too little, middle-of-the-night or early morning waking Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain Loss of interest or pleasure in activities, including sex Irritability or restlessness Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions. Fatigue or loss of energy Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or
Thoughts of death or suicide, including suicide attempts Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
Treatment is critical for recovery. A combination of medication, professional help and support
from family, friends and peers help individuals with bipolar disorder stabilize their emotions and
Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated with medication. A common medication,
Lithium, is effective in controlling mania in 60% of individuals with bipolar disorder. Olanzapine
(Zyprexa), an antipsychotic, is a new treatment for bipolar disorder, Carbomazepine (Tegratol)
and divalproex sodium (Depakote), which are mood-stabilizers and anticonvulsants, are some
of the other medications used. In addition, benzodiazepines are sometimes prescribed for
insomnia and thyroid medication can also be helpful.
It is suggested that those with bipolar disorder receive guidance, education and support from a
mental health professional to help deal with personal relationships, maintain a healthy self-
image and ensure compliance with his or her treatment.
Support and self-help groups are also an invaluable resource for learning coping skills, feeling
acceptance and avoiding social isolation. Friends and family should join a support group to
better understand the illness so that they can continue to offer encouragement and support to
Other Resources: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) National Institute of Mental Health National Foundation for Depressive Illness
“ Bipolar Disorder,” NIMH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“ Facts About: Manic Depression,” American Psychiatric Association.
“ Overview of Bipolar Disorder and its Symptoms,” National Depressive and Manic Depressive
For More Information:
For help finding treatment, support groups, medication information, help paying for your
medications, your local Mental Health America affiliate, and other mental health-related services
in your community, please click here to access oIf you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK
(8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 40:124–127 (2008)Treatment of Acne Scars Using the Plasma SkinRegeneration (PSR) SystemMD,1 William H. Sturgill, MD,1 E. Victor Ross, MD,2 and Nathan S. Uebelhoer, DO1Dermatology Department, Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, California2Scripps Clinic, Division of Dermatology, Cosmetic Dermatology Center, San Diego, CaliforniaBackground and Objectives:
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