Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, affects at least 2 million Americans at any given time. The disorder is characterized by alternating periods of extreme moods. A person with Bipolar disorder experiences cycling of moods that usually swing from being overly elated or irritable (mania) to sad and hopeless (depression) and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between. For those who have this disorder, it can be extremely distressing and disruptive. The frequency of the swings between these two states, and the duration of the mood, varies from person to person.
Bipolar disorder typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life. It is often not recognized at first as a serious disorder, and people who have it may suffer needlessly for years or even decades. This disorder is not a character flaw, and it is not your fault. It is a serious mood disorder that affects a person's ability to function in every day activities. It affects one's work, one's family, and one's social life.
Today, much more is known about the causes and treatment of this mental health problem. We know that there are biological and psychological components to every bipolar disorder and that the best form of treatment is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Contrary to the popular misconceptions about bipolar disorder today, it is not a purely biochemical or medical disorder. However, with the proper treatment, Bipolar disorder can be effectively managed and a person can lead a normal life.
A person's family history and genetics often play an important role in the greater likelihood of someone having this disorder in their lifetime. Increased stress and inadequate coping mechanisms to deal with that stress may also contribute to the disorder's manifestation. Bipolar disorder is most often experienced as a swing between a manic and a depressed mood, which may often be related to increased stress or other event in a person's normal life. Nearly anything can trigger a person to shift in mood, and sometimes there is no obvious trigger at all. Often, the first manic episode is triggered because of some external stressor the person has experienced. However, the hallmark of Bipolar disorder is that the person's extreme moods often seem to come on of their own accord. Once the person's mood begins to cycle, there is often not an external reason the person can find for feeling the way that he/she does.
We have developed the information here to act as a comprehensive guide to help you better understand bipolar disorder and find out more information about it on your own. Choose from among the categories at left to begin your journey into recovery.