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Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression. Bipolar disorder is a psychological disorder that effects a person's mood. The mood swings are very extreme with a manic (high elation) phase and a very deep depressive phase. There is estimated to effect approximately 1% of the adult population. There is also evidence that shows that neither men nor women have a greater chance of suffering from bipolar disorder than the other. Bipolar is the third most common disorder after major depression and dysthymic disorder (a mild but persistent form of depression). Because of the extreme psychological disturbances caused by bipolar disorder, it can destroy lives. Alcohol and drug problems are often present in sufferers and without proper medication and care, it leads to 20% of sufferers committing suicide.

Many people experience a depressive phase most of the time, while only experiencing very few manic episodes. It is the swing between moods that people find hardest to deal with. Although no one would care to feel deeply depressed.

There is no cure for bipolar disorder and it is a life-long condition that often needs to be controlled with medication. Lithium is used to help control mania phases of people who suffer from bipolar disorder. Bipolar often begins in adolescence or early adulthood, and continues throughout life. Bipolar disorder is very seldom diagnosed in people who are 40 years old and above.

Types of Phases

Although it is generally accepted that bipolar disorder alternates the sufferers mood between mania and depression, the American Psychiatric Association has identified four different moods that are experienced in varying degrees of intensity and length, or not at all.

Depression - typical depression from a lack of motivation or interest in anything including eating to thoughts and attempts at suicide.

Mania - often begins with an elated or euphoric feeling. can also cause a sufferer to feel angry and irritable.

Hypomania - a milder form of mania where the person feels good and feels they are becoming more productive with their life.

Mixed mood - a mixed episode is characterised by experiencing feelings of mania and depression all in the same day.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder symptoms are disturbances or abnormality of moods with the sufferer alternating between a manic phase and a depressive phase repetitively.

Depressive Phase Symptoms

Very deep negative moods often with thoughts or attempts at suicide.
Eating disorders.
No interest in activities enjoyed in the past.
None or very little interest in sex.
No self esteem.
Sleeping problems high an low.
Feeling guilty.

Manic Phase Symptoms

Excessive high or euphoric feelings along with many grand or over-ambitious ideas or plans.
Excessive amounts of energy.
Unnaturally high self-esteem and self-belief.
Increased sex drive which may lead to promiscuity and aggressive sexual behaviour.
Extreme irritability and easily distracted.
Alcohol and drug abuse, usually cocaine and sleeping medication.
Little need for sleep.
Manic phase lasts at least one week.
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