Bipolar Disorder




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General Information About Bipolar Disorder

     Bipolar Disorder is a very serious mood disorder.  It is also commonly known as Manic-Depressive Illness.  About one in ten people with major depression will have Bipolar Disorder.  In addition to often having depressive symptoms, people with bipolar disorder have extended periods of extreme and unusual elation, called mania.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder:

     During the depressed phase, the symptoms of bipolar depression are the same as those that characterize major depression, however the risk of suicide is higher.  During the manic phase, some or all of the following symptoms are present.

        Increased energy, decreased need for sleep

       Feelings of excitement, joy, or irritation that seem out of place or too extreme

       Increased talking or physical activity

       Rash behavior and poor judgment.  For example, wild spending and poorly thought-out business decisions

       An increase in impulsive sexual activities

       Racing, disconnected thoughts

       Odd or improper social behavior

       An increased belief in one's own importance, called grandiosity.  Also, an unusual increase in self-esteem and in one's ability to accomplish tasks

     Some manic episodes are so severe that the person has hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there).  The person may have unshakable false beliefs, often about wealth, power, special abilities, or danger (paranoia).  During a severe episode, a person may need to be admitted to a hospital for stabilization of the disorder.

     Without treatment, the manic phase can last up to three months.  This can be followed by a period of normal mood, or a depressive phase may rapidly set in.  Some people go from mania to depression and back to mania within a few days without a period of normal mood.  This is called rapid cycling.

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This website was last updated 05/09/2014.

 2005 Mood Disorders Treatment and Research Program (MDTRP), Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), UPMC Health System