Persistent feelings of sadness, apathy, or hopelessness
lasting more than two weeks.
Diminished interest in most daily activities,
particularly pleasurable ones.
Decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss;
increased appetite and weight gain.
Lack of sleep (insomnia), frequent awakening
throughout the night, or conversely, an increased need for
Anxiety; diminished ability to think or concentrate.
Feelings of irritability, grandeur, and inflated
Diminished need for sleep.
Being extremely talkative.
Sensing that thoughts and ideas are racing.
Being easily distracted.
Increased productivity and/or activity at
work, at school, or in social situations.
Excessive involvement in high-risk activities
that are likely to have painful consequences (such as extramarital
affairs or unsound business deals).
Increased sex drive.
When To Call Your Doctor
a doctor if you or someone you know shows significant signs of
What Is It?
Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by
episodes of low mood (depression) or elated mood (mania), separated
by periods of normal mood and functioning. Mania is marked by
inflated self-esteem; an elated, euphoric, or grandiose mood;
increased activity; and a decreased need for sleep. Episodes
of mania or depression can last from a few weeks to several months
and are frequently severe enough to affect day-to-day functioning
at work and at home. Men tend to have more bouts of mania; women
have more episodes of depression (see Depression for more information).
Bipolar disorder has also been called manic-depressive illness.
Affecting about 1% of the general population, bipolar
disorder typically begins between ages 20 and 30, though it can
start at any age. For most patients, the condition is recurring.
The rate of this "cycling" varies among individuals.
Fortunately, although bipolar disorder can be a lifelong condition,
treatment helps the majority of patients to have episodes that
are less frequent and less severe.
What Causes It?
a primary role in the development of bipolar disorder. If you
have a family history of bipolar disorder, there is a greater
chance that you will be vulnerable to it.
Recurrent manic episodes
may be caused by sleep deprivation or antidepressant drug therapy.
The more episodes
a patient has had, the more likely he or she is to have another.
There is no
way to prevent bipolar disorder, but medications such as lithium,
carbamazepine, and divalproex may prevent recurrences.
and patient history by a mental health professional are necessary.
Because symptoms of a single manic episode can mimic those of
schizophrenia, patients may need several exams before getting
an accurate diagnosis.
tests should be done to rule out an underlying medical illness
(such as hyperthyroidism), an adverse drug reaction, another
medical or psychiatric condition, or the effects of alcohol or
How To Treat It
divalproex are the treatments of choice for mania. Carbamazepine
is also effective. Beneficial effects appear in two to six weeks.
the slow therapeutic response to these medications, antipsychotic
medications may be administered for treatment of severe mania.
episodes may need to be treated in the hospital.
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