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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Preventing Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is a mental health disorder that is distinguished by dramatic changes in a person's mood and energy, from the elated highs of mania to the lows of depression. Bipolar disorder affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and usually has its onset in late adolescence or young adulthood. We know that genetics can play a role in the vulnerability to bipolar disorder, as researchers have traced the incidence of bipolar disorder among generations of families.

While bipolar disorder cannot be prevented, it's important to be aware of early warning signs of an impending episode of bipolar depression or bipolar mania. Early recognition of bipolar warning signs and seeing your doctor regularly can allow you to monitor your mood and medications and keep illness from escalating.

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Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, at no cost to you. Learn more.

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In fact, although treating bipolar disorder moods is critical, there is a convincing case supported by scientific studies that the prevention of further mood episodes should be the greatest goal.

What are bipolar disorder symptoms?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can fall between two extreme mood states:

  1. Bipolar depression, which includes feelings of being sad, hopeless, helpless, and worthless
  2. Bipolar mania, which includes feelings of elation and exuberance coupled with increased energy and activity and little need for sleep.

In addition, people with bipolar disorder can have manic episodes that occur simultaneously with depressive symptoms or vice versa. The simultaneous occurrence of depressive symptoms and manic episodes is known as "mixed features."

What are symptoms of bipolar depression?

Symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder may consist of the following:

  • Depressed mood and low self-esteem
  • Excessive crying spells
  • Low energy levels and an apathetic view of life
  • Sadness, loneliness, helplessness, feelings of guilt
  • Slow speech, fatigue, and poor coordination and concentration
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Thoughts of suicide or dying
  • Changes in appetite (overeating/not eating)
  • Unexplainable body aches and pains
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities

What are symptoms of bipolar mania?

  • Euphoria or irritability
  • Excessive talking; racing thoughts
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Unusual energy; less need for sleep
  • Impulsiveness, a reckless pursuit of gratification -- shopping sprees, impetuous travel, more and sometimes promiscuous sex, high-risk business investments, fast driving
  • Hallucinations and or delusions (psychotic features such as these may be involved in about one out of every two of cases of bipolar mania)

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