What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes
extreme mood swings. This condition is also called
manic-depressive illness. 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.
What are some of the signs of bipolar
At times, a person who has bipolar
disorder may feel very happy, full of energy and
able to do anything. The person might not even
want to rest when he or she feels this way.
This feeling is called mania (say: "may-nee-ah"). At
other times, a person who has bipolar disorder may feel
very sad and depressed. The person may not want to do
anything when he or she feels this way. This is called
depression. People with bipolar disorder can quickly go
from mania to depression and back again.
Other signs of mania may include the following:
Feeling very irritable or angry
Thinking and talking so fast that other people
can't follow your thoughts
Not sleeping at all
Feeling very powerful and important
Having trouble concentrating
Spending too much money
Abusing alcohol and drugs
Having sex without being careful to prevent
pregnancy or disease
Other signs of depression may include the
- No interest or pleasure in things you used to
enjoy, including sex
- Feeling sad or numb
- Crying easily or for no reason
- Feeling slowed down, or feeling restless and
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Change in appetite; unintended change in weight
- Trouble recalling things, concentrating or making
- Headaches, backaches or digestive problems
- Problems sleeping, or wanting to sleep all of the
- Feeling tired all of the time
- Thoughts about death and suicide
How is bipolar disorder treated?
Bipolar disorder can be treated by your family
doctor. Your family doctor may want you to see a
psychiatrist too. You and your doctors will work
together to control your mood swings and make sure you
Bipolar disorder is treated with medicines to stop
the mood swings. Mood stabilizers are used to even out
highs and lows in your mood. Antidepressant medicine can
help reduce the symptoms of depression. Your doctor
may add other medicines as you need them. These
medicines don't start to work right away, but you will
start to notice a difference in your moods after a few
weeks. Be sure to take your medicines just as your
doctor tells you.
Counseling can help you with stress, family concerns
and relationship problems. It's important to get
counseling if you have bipolar disorder.
What can I do to help myself get
- Read about bipolar disorder and tell your family
what you learn. Your doctor can suggest resources to
help you learn more.
- Have a regular routine. Go to bed and wake up at
about the same time every day. Eat your meals and
exercise at regular times.
- Take your medicine every day, and don't stop
taking it even if you start feeling better. Avoid
caffeine and over-the-counter medicines for colds,
allergies and pain. Ask your doctor before you drink
alcohol or use any other medicines.
- Try to avoid stress.
- Learn the early warning signs of your illness.
Tell your doctor when you notice changes in your mood
- Join a local support group. You and your family
can share information and experiences with the support