Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings. This condition is also called manic-depressive illness or manic depression. It may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Bipolar disorder sometimes runs in families. If you have a parent who has bipolar disorder, you have a greater chance of having it. Both men and women can have bipolar disorder. People of all ages can have it.
An estimated 22.1% of Americans ages 18 and older-about 1 in 5 adults-suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.Census residential population estimate, this figure translates to 44.3 million people. In addition, 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries are mental disorders - major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time.
Bipolar disorder is not easy to spot when it starts. The symptoms may seem like separate problems, not recognized as parts of a larger problem. Some people suffer for years before they are properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.
People with bipolar disorder may also have behavioral problems. They may abuse alcohol or substances, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. At first, it's not easy to recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness.
How can I help myself if I have bipolar disorder?Symptoms of bipolar disorder are described below.
People having a manic episode may:
* Feel very "up" or "high"
* Feel "jumpy" or "wired"
* Talk really fast about a lot of different things
* Be agitated, irritable, or "touchy"
* Have trouble relaxing or sleeping
* Think they can do a lot of things at once and are more active than usual
* Do risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex.
People having a depressive episode may:
* Feel very "down" or sad
* Feel worried and empty
* Have trouble concentrating
* Forget things a lot
* Lose interest in fun activities and become less active
* Feel tired or "slowed down"
* Have trouble sleeping
* Think about death or suicide.
You can help yourself by getting treatment and sticking with it. It takes time, and it's not easy. But treatment is the best way to start feeling better. Here are some tips:
* Talk to your doctor about your treatment
* Stay on your medication
* Keep a routine for eating and sleeping
* Make sure you get enough sleep
* Learn to recognize your mood swings
* Ask a friend or relative to help you stick with your treatment
* Be patient about your symptoms. Improvement takes time.
How can I help someone I know with bipolar disorder?
Help your friend or relative see a doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make the appointment and go with him or her to the doctor.
Here are some helpful things you can do:
* Be patient
* Encourage your friend or relative to talk, and listen to him or her carefully
* Be understanding about mood swings
* Include your friend or relative in fun activities
* Remind him or her that getting better is possible with the right treatment.