Fran Szabo, 61, of Bethlehem, Pa., is one of those moms who speak glowingly
about her kids without sounding like she’s trying to one-up other mothers. All
three are successful in their careers and personal lives.
But the road to this happiness, Fran acknowledges, was bumpy for her,
husband Paul, and sons Thad, 36, Vance, 32, and Ross, 29. Ross and Thad were
both diagnosed with bipolar disorder so severe they required psychiatric
hospitalizations. For years after that, Thad was estranged from...
Treatment can make a huge difference. With a combination of things -- good medical care, medication, talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and the support of friends and family -- you can feel better. Bipolar disorder -- or manic depression, as it used to be called -- may not have a cure. But plenty of people with this condition do well; they have families and jobs and live normal lives.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
There are two major types of bipolar disorder.
Type I causes periods of mania that often alternate with periods of depression. These periods might last for weeks or months.
Type II causes periods of depression that alternate with a less severe form of mania called hypomania.
There are also other types of bipolar disorder. Cyclothymia is characterized by frequent but milder changes in your mood. Rapid cycling is a term used to describe cases of bipolar I or II, in which mood episodes occur 4 or more times over a 1-year period. Women are more likely to have this type of bipolar disorder than men and it tends to develop later in the course of the illness. Rapid cycling increases the risk for severe depression and suicide.
Whatever type of bipolar disorder you have, there is a still lot of variation from person to person. While some people are beset with frequent serious mood swings, others go years or even decades before having another. Everyone's experience is different.
Bipolar disorder can make you feel utterly alone. But that really isn't the case. More than 2 million adults in the U.S. are coping with bipolar disorder right now.
It's important not to blame yourself for your condition. Bipolar disorder is a physical illness, not a sign of personal weakness. It's like diabetes, heart disease, or any other health condition.
The important thing is to focus on the future. Living with bipolar disorder can be tough. But don't let it hijack your life. Instead, take action and regain control of your health. With dedication and the help of your health care providers, you can feel better again.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, D. C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.
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Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Bipolar Disorder, 2002.
WebMD Medical Reference: Bipolar Disorder.
Muller-Oerlinghausen, B. The Lancet, Jan. 19, 2002; vol 359: pp 241-247.
Kaufman, K. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. June, 2003; vol 15: pp 81-83.
Compton, M. Depression and Bipolar Disorder, ACP Medicine.
Joseph Goldberg, MD on October 02, 2012