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Bipolar disorder — sometimes called manic-depressive disorder — causes mood swings that range from of the lows of depression to the highs of mania. When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may only occur only a few times a year, or as often as several times a day. In some cases, bipolar disorder causes symptoms of depression and mania at the same time.
Alternative Names of Bipolar Disorder are: Manic depressive disorder.
Complications of Bipolar Disorder
Left untreated, bipolar disorder can result in serious problems that affect every area of your life. These can include:
Causes of Bipolar Disorder
Several factors seem to be involved in causing and triggering bipolar episodes:
Signs & Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The exact symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person. For some people, depression causes the most problems; for other people manic symptoms are the main concern. Symptoms of depression and symptoms of mania or hypomania may also occur together. This is known as a mixed episode.
Manic phase of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:
Depressive phase of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder can include:
Other signs and symptoms bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can also include:
Symptoms in children and adolescents
Instead of clear-cut depression and mania or hypomania, the most prominent signs of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents can include explosive temper, rapid mood shifts, reckless behavior and aggression. In some cases, these shifts occur within hours or less — for example, a child may have intense periods of giddiness and silliness, long bouts of crying and outbursts of explosive anger all in one day. Changing sleep patterns are also a common indicator of childhood bipolar disorder.
Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
When doctors suspect someone has bipolar disorder, they typically do a number of tests and exams. These can help rule out other problems, pinpoint a diagnosis and also check for any related complications. These can include:
Treatments of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment, even during periods when you feel better. Treatment is usually guided by a psychiatrist skilled in treating the condition. You may have a treatment team that also includes psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses. The primary treatments for bipolar disorder include medications; individual, group or family psychological counseling (psychotherapy); or education and support groups.
Prevention of Bipolar Disorder
There's no sure way to prevent bipolar disorder. However, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a mental health disorder can help prevent bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions from worsening. If you've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, some strategies can help prevent minor episodes from becoming full-blown episodes of mania or depression:
When to seek Medical Advice
If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, see your doctor or mental health provider. Bipolar disorder doesn't get better on its own. Getting treatment from a mental health provider with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control. Many people with bipolar disorder don't get the treatment they need. Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don't recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And if you're like some people with bipolar disorder, you may enjoy the feelings of euphoria and cycles of being more productive. However, this euphoria is always followed by an emotional crash that can leave you depressed, worn out — and perhaps in financial, legal or relationship trouble. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, confide in a friend or loved one, a health care professional, a faith leader or someone else you trust. They can help you take the first steps to successful treatment.
If you have suicidal thoughts
Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common among people with bipolar disorder. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, get help right away. Here are some steps you can take:
When to get emergency help
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If you have a loved one who has harmed himself or herself, or is seriously considering doing so, make sure someone stays with that person. Take him or her to the hospital or call for emergency help.
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