Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that shares a number of symptoms with major depression. It is also known as manic-depressive illness. More than 2 million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder in a given year. A person suffering from this disorder experiences unusual shifts in a mood, energy, and ability to function which are more extreme than the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through. The "ups" are called manic episodes and the "downs" are called depressive episodes. These episodes impact a person's abilility to function, affecting relationships and school or job performance.

Signs and symptoms of a manic episode include:

- Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
- Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood or extreme irritability
- Racing thoughts, jumping from one idea to another
- Talking very fast or more than usual
- Distractibility, can't concentrate well
- Little sleep needed
- Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers; inflated self-esteem
- Unusual involvement in pleasureable activities that have a high probability of having negative consequences such as spending sprees and inappropriate sexual behavior

Additional criteria:

- The euphoric or "up" mood must last for at least 1 week and 3 of the above symptoms must be present nearly all day everyday

- If irritability is the main symptom, it must be accompanied by 4 of the above symptoms nearly all day and everyday

- Impact ability to function

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