Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings. This condition is also called manic-depressive illness or manic depression. Both men and women can have bipolar disorder. People of all ages can have it.
Yes. There are several different kinds of bipolar disorder. Which kind you have depends on how quickly you move from manic episodes to depression and back again, as well as how severe your symptoms are.
At times, a person who has bipolar disorder may feel very happy, full of energy and able to do anything. The person may not want to rest when feeling this way. This feeling is called mania (say: "may-nee-ah"). At other times, a person who has bipolar disorder may feel very sad and depressed. The person may not want to do anything when he or she feels this way. This is called depression. People who have bipolar disorder can quickly go from mania to depression and back again.
Other signs of mania include the following:
Other signs of depression include the following:
Bipolar disorder may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It sometimes runs in families. If you have a parent who has bipolar disorder, you have a greater chance of having it.
Your family doctor can treat bipolar disorder. Your family doctor may want you to see a psychiatrist too. You and your doctors will work together to control your mood swings and make sure you stay well.
Bipolar disorder is treated with medicines to stop the mood swings. Mood stabilizers are used to even out highs and lows in your mood. Antidepressant medicine can help reduce the symptoms of depression. Your doctor may add other medicines as you need them. These medicines don't start to work right away, but you will start to notice a difference in your moods after a few weeks. Be sure to take your medicines just as your doctor tells you.
Counseling can help you with stress, family concerns and relationship problems. It's important to get counseling if you have bipolar disorder.
Some people who have bipolar disorder don’t want to get treatment. Often, they don’t realize how much it affects their lives and the lives of the people around them. Also, they feel very productive and powerful during the manic phase and are reluctant to give this up.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff