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Bipolar Disorder - What Happens

With bipolar disorder, you go back and forth between highs and lows of mania and depression. In between, you may return completely to normal or have some remaining symptoms. The extreme mood changes may come on suddenly or appear more slowly.

During a manic episode, you may go from feeling abnormally happy and productive to behaving irresponsibly and sleeping very little. After this manic high, your mood may return to normal. Or it may swing in the opposite direction. You may feel useless and extremely sad. And you may lose interest in things you've enjoyed in the past.

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Bipolar Disorder: Who’s at Risk?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is an illness in which a person has periods of high mood and energy and other times 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 thoughts and fast speech,...

Read the Bipolar Disorder: Who’s at Risk? article > >

Men tend to have more manic highs, and women tend to have more lows of depression.3

At first, stress may trigger depression or mania. But as the illness progresses, mood swings may not be caused by any specific event. Without treatment, your bipolar disorder may get worse. This can cause you to move more often between mania and depression.

Other health problems

People with bipolar disorder—men more often than women—may have substance abuse problems, especially during manic episodes.4 Abusing alcohol or drugs may affect treatment and interfere with taking medicines as prescribed. Other disorders that may occur along with this disorder include:5

These illnesses need to be treated along with bipolar disorder.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 03, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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