Bipolar Disorder

(Manic-Depressive Illness)


  • exact cause is unknown
  • factors that may be involved
  1. Biological Differences- People with bipolar appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is yet to be discovered, but may one day lead to learning more about the causes.
  2. Neurotransmitters- play a large role in bipolar as well as other mood disorders. In people who have Bipolar Disorder, there is an imbalance in these naturally occurring brain chemicals
  3. Inherited Traits- more common in people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder (parent or sibling). Researchers are trying to find a gene that links to Bipolar.


  • Manic Episode
-defined as a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood that lasts at least one week

-increased goal-directed activity and energy

  • Hypomanic Episode
-defined the same as a manic episode, but lasting at least four consecutive days rather than a week

  • Symptoms of Manic and Hypomanic Episodes
-inflated self-esteem

-lack of need for sleep

-excessive talkativity

-racing thoughts

-easily distracted

-increased goal-directed activity

-increased agitation

  • Major Depressive Episode
-defined as a two-week period that represent a change from the previous mood and functioning. The most important symptom is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

  • Symptoms of a Major Depressive Episode
-depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless or tearful (in children or teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)

-Markedly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all- or almost all- activities most of the day, nearly every day

-Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day (in children, failure to gain weight as expected can be a sign of depression)

-Either insomnia or sleeping excessively nearly every day

-Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others

-Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

-Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt, such as believing things that are not true, nearly every day

-Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day

-Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide planning or attempt


  • Medication
-mood stablizing medication

-minimizes highs and lows of the disorder

  • Psychotherapy
-learn how to cope with uncomfortable feelings

-repair relationships

-manage stress

-regulate mood

  • Education
-easier to avoid complications if you know more about the disorder

  • Lifestyle Management
-helps keep mood episodes to a minimum

  • Support
-bipolar support group

-share experiences

-learn from others


  • no prevention of disorder
  • can prevent episodes by medicating


  • affects about 5.7 million adult Americans
  • found in both men and women, all races, all ages
  • over two-thirds of the people with bipolar have at least one relative with bipolar or unipolar deprsession