Bipolar disorder: Introduction
Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar, is a serious mental health disorder that manifests as periods of intense mania or euphoria that alternate with episodes of depression. Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder, which seriously affects a person's mood and interferes with a person's ability to function effectively in everyday life.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown but there may a genetic link to the disorder. Most people with bipolar disorder have a close relative with the disorder or with depression. Bipolar disorder is sometimes associated with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, hormonal deficiencies, and genetic factors. In some cases bipolar disorder can be set off by certain conditions, such as sleep deprivation, hypothyroidism, and the use of antidepressant medications. Bipolar disorder occurs in equal numbers in both sexes.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings that also manifest in extremes in energy and functioning. Bipolar disorder includes periods of intense mania, in which a person's mood is extremely elevated, and there is a very high level of energy, alertness and excitability. Symptoms also include impulsivity, racing thoughts and rapid talking. Complications of this phase of bipolar disorder include the development of delirium or paranoia.
In bipolar disorder these periods of mania alternate with episodes of depression. Symptoms of depression include intense, overwhelming persistent feelings of sadness, despair, a low energy level, and difficulty concentrating. Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and in extreme cases, suicide attempts.
Some people with bipolar disorder may experience a combination of symptoms of mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. In addition, some people with bipolar disorder can experience a rapid shifting from symptoms of mania to symptoms of depression. This is called rapid cycling. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of bipolar disorder.
There is no specific test that can diagnose bipolar disorder. Making a diagnosis of bipolar disorder begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a complete physical examination and mental health exam. Assessment and tests are also performed to ensure that symptoms are not due to treatable medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, sleep deprivation, or the side effect of medications, such as antidepressants or thyroid medications. A referral to a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health provider is generally made to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder.
It is possible that a diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be missed or delayed because a person with the disorder may not seek care because of the stigma associated with mental illness. In addition, symptoms of bipolar disorder can be vague or associated with other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis and conditions and diseases that can mimic bipolar disorder, refer to misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder.
There is no specific cure for bipolar disorder, but it can be treated. Treatment of bipolar disorder varies depending on its severity of the condition, and a person's medical history, age, and general health. Treatment generally includes a combination of medications and psychotherapy. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of bipolar disorder. ...more »
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder,
involves cycles of alternating mania and depressive symptoms.
It is an under-diagnosed disorder with many cases misdiagnosed for years.
Many cases of bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed as clinical depression
because patients tend to seek treatment during the down phases,
rather than the euphoric manic phases.
Other possible misdiagnoses include anxiety disorders,
borderline personality disorder, and
There are several subtypes of bipolar disorder, including
the milder bipolar II disorder,
to be carefully distinguished for accurate diagnosis. ...more »
Bipolar disorder: Symptoms
The severity and types of symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person but generally affect mood, energy and functioning. Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of intense mania or euphoria that alternates with episodes of depression. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can seriously interfere with a person's ability to function normally in ...more symptoms »
Bipolar disorder: Treatments
The overall treatment goal for people living with bipolar disorder is to minimize mood swings and other symptoms so that they can live functional and productive lives. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, and treatment generally needs to be life-long to most effectively control symptoms. The most effective treatment plans employ a multifaceted ...more treatments »
Bipolar disorder: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder may be missed or delayed because people with bipolar disorder may fear the stigma of or be embarrassed by mental illness and not seek treatment. In addition, a person with bipolar disorder may not recognize that they are having symptoms or that their behavior has become a serious threat to their health.
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Bipolar disorder
See full list of 57
symptoms of Bipolar disorder
Treatments for Bipolar disorder
See full list of 31
treatments for Bipolar disorder
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Bipolar disorder:
Wrongly Diagnosed with Bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder: Related Patient Stories
Bipolar disorder: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Bipolar disorder.
Alternative Treatments for Bipolar disorder
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Bipolar disorder may include:
- Coffea cruda homeopathic remedy
- Sufficient sleep
- Set up a regular routine or daily rhythm (e.g. for eating, working and sleeping)
- more treatments »
Types of Bipolar disorder
- Bipolar I disorder - recurrent episodes of mania and depression
- Bipolar II disorder - episodes of mild mania (hypomania) and depression
- Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder - 4 or more episodes a year
- more types...»
Read more about Types of Bipolar disorder
Curable Types of Bipolar disorder
Possibly curable types of Bipolar disorder include:
Rare Types of Bipolar disorder:
Rare types of Bipolar disorder include:
Bipolar disorder: Complications
Review possible medical complications related to Bipolar disorder:
- The most serious complication of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is suicide. People with bipolar disorder are 10 to 20 times more likely to commit suicide than people without bipolar disorder. Tragically, 8% to 20% of people with bipolar disorder eventually lose their lives to suicide
- more complications...»
Causes of Bipolar disorder
- People with an immediate family member with bipolar disorder are at higher risk
- Genetic factors
- Environmental influence
- Childhood precursors
- Life events and experiences
- more causes...»
Read more about causes of Bipolar disorder
More information about causes of Bipolar disorder:
Disease Topics Related To Bipolar disorder
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Bipolar disorder:
Bipolar disorder: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Bipolar disorder
Rare epilepsy can cause a variety of severe emotional and depressive symptoms: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports on
a case of a woman with severe personality and behavioral symptoms,
and...read more »
Physical disorders often hidden causes of depression: It is a common misdiagnosis to diagnose a psychological
or psychiatric disorder, such as depression, when symptoms are
actually caused by an...read more »
Underactive thryoid may be misdiagnosed as depression: Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is an endocrine gland disorder that
is more common in women.
It can...read more »
Cushing's disease can be mistaken for depression: Cushing's disease (or similarly Cushing's syndrome) is a possible misdiagnosis for a person
diagnosed with depression.
It is an endocrine disorder...read more »
Manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder often misdiagnosed: Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is often
misdiagnosed...read more »
Calcium disorder a hidden cause of depression-like symptoms: Another uncommon endocrine disorder that
can be misdiagnosed as depression is hypocalcemia (low blood calcium),
which is usually due to a disorder of the ...read more »
Rare seizure-less epilepsy misdiagnosed as various conditions: A complex partial seizure disorder,
such as temporal lobe epilepsy
can be misdiagnosed as various conditions.
Some of the possible misdiagnoses...read more »
Multiple sclerosis often misdiagnosed as mental disorder: The early stages of multiple sclerosis may cause
various general feelings of wellness, happiness, euphoria, or manic-type symptoms
in some patients.
These symptoms may lead...read more »
Lupus is often misdiagnosed as other conditions: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often simply called "lupus",
is a difficult disease to diagnose and can manifest with numerous symptoms.
Some of the possible...read more »
Rare copper disease insidious and misdiagnosed: Wilson's disease (a form of copper overload) is a rare disorder that
has a slow and insidious onset that can often fail to be diagnosed.
Copper...read more »
Insidious cancer misdiagnosed as mental health condition: Pancreatic cancer is fortunately relatively rare,
but this dangerous condition can be misdiagnosed as a mental condition in its
Psychological symptoms similar to...read more »
Cluster of diseases with difficult diagnosis issues: There is a well-known list of
medical conditions that are all somewhat difficult to diagnose, and all can present
in...read more »
Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who
had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness
because he suffered from sudden inability to speak.
This was initially misdiagnosed as a ...read more »
Alzheimer's disease over-diagnosed: The well-known disease of Alzheimer's disease
is often over-diagnosed.
Patients tend to assume that any memory loss or forgetulness symptom might be Alzheimer's,
whereas there...read more »
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions,
such as a stroke or ...read more »
Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms
of severe brain injury are hard to miss,
it is less clear for milder injuries, or even those causing a mild concussion diagnosis.
The...read more »
ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD
in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults.
Some adults can remain undiagnosed, and indeed the condition has usually been
overlooked...read more »
MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms
such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked.
This is particularly true of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), for which the
symptoms are...read more »
Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder)
often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care physicians.
Many patients with bipolar seek help...read more »
Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with
an eating disorder is female.
The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to be diagnosed or
have a delayed diagnosis.
See misdiagnosis of eating disorders...read more »
Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be
undiagnosed in teenagers.
The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical depression
to be overlooked.
See ...read more »
Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition
that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often...read more »
Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had
suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return.
A variety of...read more »
Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be
correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients.
These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but...read more »
Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression)
may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of anxiety...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:
Hospitals & Clinics: Bipolar disorder
Research quality ratings and patient safety measures
for medical facilities in specialties related to Bipolar disorder:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to Bipolar disorder,
on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Bipolar disorder: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Evidence Based Medicine Research for Bipolar disorder
Medical research articles related to Bipolar disorder include:
Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database
Bipolar disorder: Animations
More Bipolar disorder animations & videos
Prognosis for Bipolar disorder
Prognosis for Bipolar disorder:
For many individuals with bipolar disorder a good prognosis results from good treatment, which, in turn, results from an accurate diagnosis. Because bipolar disorder can have a high rate of both under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis, it is often difficult for individuals with the condition to receive timely and competent treatment.
More about prognosis of Bipolar disorder
Research about Bipolar disorder
Visit our research pages for current research about Bipolar disorder treatments.
Clinical Trials for Bipolar disorder
The US based website ClinicalTrials.gov lists information on both federally
and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Bipolar disorder include:
See full list of 305
Clinical Trials for Bipolar disorder
Statistics for Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder: Broader Related Topics
Types of Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder Message Boards
Related forums and medical stories:
User Interactive Forums
Read about other experiences, ask a question about Bipolar disorder, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:
Article Excerpts about Bipolar disorder
Going to Extremes Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)
There is a tendency to romanticize bipolar disorder. Many artists,
musicians and writers have suffered from its mood swings. But in truth,
many lives are ruined by this disease; and without effective treatment,
the illness is associated with an increased risk of suicide. (Source: excerpt from Going to Extremes Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)
Bipolar Disorder: NIMH (Excerpt)
brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and
ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone
goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result
in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even
suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and
people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. (Source: excerpt from Bipolar Disorder: NIMH)
Definitions of Bipolar disorder:
A major affective disorder marked by severe mood swings (manic or major depressive episodes) and a tendency to remission and recurrence.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
A mental disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
Ophanet, a consortium of European partners,
currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000.
They list Bipolar disorder as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet
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