Mental health authorities estimate that
more than 2 million adults yearly have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (also called manic-depression), a
chemical imbalance in the brain causing extreme mood swings from manic highs to agonizing lows. Although a
diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be frightening and confusing, it is a treatable and manageable condition.
If anyone has been diagnosed with
bipolar illness, the first step in relieving fear and uncertainty is education. The more we know about the
disorder, the less control it will exert over us and others who may be affected.
Below are some essential facts about
bipolar disorder that may alleviate some of your concerns and questions surrounding a recent
Bipolar disorder affects approximately
2.3 million adults, or 1.2 percent of the population, in any given year.
Bipolar disorder has many potential
causes: There does not appear to be one cause for bipolar disorder. Evidence suggests that many components may
come into play, all of which affect the chemical balance of certain parts of the brain. Several studies on the
occurrence of bipolar disorder in families demonstrate a genetic disposition toward the illness. Other factors
may include extremely traumatic life events, chronic illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
Bipolar disorder has varied symptoms:
The most pronounced symptoms of bipolar disorder are dramatic mood swings consisting of extremely “high” manic
episodes to debilitating episodes of depression and then back again with relatively normal moods in between.
Behaviours during a manic episode include heightened feelings of euphoria, extreme energy, decreased need for
sleep, extreme irritability and distractibility, and increased aggression. Depressive episodes bring about
excessive feelings of despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, and sometimes thoughts of suicide.
Bipolar disorder affects both sexes in
children to adults: Manic depression is not selective in who it touches. Women and men are equally affected, as
are children and adolescents (although a diagnosis in children and teens is more difficult to determine). A
majority of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a least one family member with the illness. And children
of parents with the illness are more likely to develop it themselves.
Bipolar disorder has effective
treatment modalities: bipolar disorder is treated with medications, called mood stabilizers, to assist in
controlling fluctuation in moods. The important thing to understand about bipolar disorder is that it is a
life-long, recurring illness requiring ongoing care. In addition to medication, psychotherapy is also prescribed
in the management of the illness. Psychotherapy assists people to understand their illness and to develop coping
skills to help deal with life events and stressors that may trigger manic and depressive episodes.
Bipolar disorder has no cure: As of
today, there is no known cure for bipolar disorder; however, it is a treatable and manageable illness. With a
close relationship with a mental health professional, a proper diagnosis, and vigilant adherence to taking
medications and sticking to prescribed treatment plans, most individuals with bipolar illness lead very
productive and rewarding lives.
These are just a few of the facts
pertaining to bipolar disorder. It is not a simple illness, yet it is manageable and