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Bipolar Disorder - Adults
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Bipolar Disorder - Adults

Bipolar Disorder - Adults

What is Bipolar Disorder or Manic-Depression?

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness or brain disorder in which a person has two very different, intense moods. Sometimes a person has a depressed mood and at other times the person has a manic mood. This is why it is sometimes called Manic Depression. On this site, the term Bipolar Disorder will be used. On other sites, you may find the term Manic Depression used to describe this same illness. With Bipolar Disorder, a person’s mood changes from extremely sad and hopeless to extremely high and irrational with more normal moods in between. The depression and mania can each last for days, weeks or even months.

About two million American adults have Bipolar Disorder. It usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood. It is a very serious illness that can result in the loss of jobs, friends and marriages. It can also lead to drug abuse and suicide. 

Symptoms of Depression in Bipolar Disorder include:

  • Intense sadness, hopelessness, and feeling of worthlessness
  • Crying spells
  • Inability to experience joy or pleasure
  • Problems concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • An increase or decrease in sleeping and/or eating
  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide

Symptoms of Mania in Bipolar Disorder include:

  • Feeling high, excited and very important
  • Having grandiose, unrealistic ideas
  • Sleeping very little and not feeling tired
  • Increased physical activity
  • Irritability, distractibility and rage
  • Speaking and thinking very fast
  • Reckless behavior such as spending sprees, driving dangerously or provocative sexual behavior

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder tends to run in families. Researchers believe it has a biological or genetic cause. Hormones and a brain chemical called serotonin seem to be involved in Bipolar Disorder. It can be triggered by an upsetting life event like the death of a loved one, substance abuse, an illness or hormonal changes like those following childbirth. Bipolar Disorder may also begin when there is no obvious stress in a person’s life.

How can Bipolar Disorder be Treated?

Bipolar Disorder can be treated successfully! Medication is almost always a necessary part of treatment for Bipolar Disorder. Talking therapies (or counseling) can help a person with Bipolar Disorder and their family work out the problems caused by the disease and teach them ways to recognize and manage the symptoms. A combination of these two kinds of therapies is usually the most effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder.

The biggest problem with Bipolar Disorder is that people do not receive the treatment they need.

 Check our section “Getting Help” to learn how to access services in Nassau County. 

Additional Information About Bipolar Disorder

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
NIMH is an agency of the United States government that does research on mental illnesses, including Bipolar Disorder. This site has clear information about Bipolar Disorder, including how to recognize it and what treatments are used.

National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association (NDMDA)
NDMDA is a grass roots organization started in 1986 by people who had Bipolar Disorder. They have a Scientific Advisory Board of leading researchers in the area of Bipolar Disorder and Depression. This site has a great deal of information about diagnosing, treating and living with Bipolar Disorder. There is also information on how to get information about Bipolar Disorder from bookstores, newsletters, conventions and education programs. The telephone number for the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association is 800-82-NDMDA.

American Psychiatric Association (APA)
APA is a professional organization for physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses, including Bipolar Disorder. This site has a short description of Bipolar Disorder, its causes and treatment.

Information provided courtesy of the MHA of Westchester County, Inc.