Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is an illness in which the person's mood alternates between the high of mania and the low of depression. People diagnosed with bipolar disorder usually have one or more major depressive episodes along with one or more manic or mixed episodes.
Bipolar mania is a prolonged state (at least one week at a time) of extreme elation or agitation accompanied by excessive energy. Symptoms of the manic "highs" include increased energy, racing speech and thoughts, excessive talkativeness, distractibility, reckless and aggressive behavior, grandiose thoughts, decreased need for sleep, feelings of invincibility, sexual inappropriateness including infidelity, excessive spending, and very high self-confidence.
Do you have bipolar disorder and want to become pregnant or are pregnant already? Perhaps you have bipolar disorder and do not want a pregnancy. Be sure to talk with your obstetrician and psychiatrist about the risks and benefits of bipolar medications and forms of birth control. For some women, a contraceptive injection that is only needed every few months is best.
If you have bipolar disorder and become pregnant unexpectedly, take note: Stopping your medications suddenly may cause harm to you...
Bipolar depression is a prolonged state (at least 2 weeks at a time) of low energy levels and sadness or irritability. Symptoms of the bipolar depression may include a pessimistic attitude, social withdrawal, thoughts of death or suicide, extreme sadness, and irritability.
A person with bipolar disorder is in a "mixed state" when bipolar mania and depression occur at the same time or switch quickly. These mixed states are distinctive time periods of one week or more when the person has both manic and depressive episodes.
Rapid cycling occurs when the patient has four or more episodes of major depression, mania, and/or mixed state within one year. The length of time that the mood switches may range from hours to months.
What causes bipolar disorder?
Though the exact cause of bipolar disorder has yet to be found, scientists confirm that bipolar disorder has a genetic component, meaning the disorder appears to run in families. Some research suggests that multiple factors may interact to produce a chemical imbalance in the brain, which results in bipolar disorder's symptoms of major depression and mania. Examples of environmental factors may include stress, alcohol or substance abuse, and lack of sleep.
Some experts theorize that the imbalance that causes bipolar disorder is caused by irregular hormone production or a malfunction of the neurotransmitters (chemicals) in the brain that act as messengers to nerve cells.
Experts have found a link between hormone levels and bipolar. Specifically, hypothyroidism may produce depression or mood instability. Females are especially vulnerable to experience the disorder with the onset of puberty. Adolescent girl's symptoms often vary in intensity with the girl's monthly menstrual cycle.
Who is at risk of bipolar disorder?
More than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally, as well as all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic classes.
Although men and women appear to be equally affected by bipolar disorder, rapid cycling is seen more often in women. Women also tend to experience more depressive and mixed state episodes than do men. A man's first experience with bipolar disorder may be in a manic state; women tend to first experience a depressive state.
Bipolar disorder can present itself at any age, but typically onset occurs around age 25.