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Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. It causes a person to have cycles of extreme mood changes that go beyond normal ups and downs. A person with bipolar cycles between periods of feeling elated, energized and excited with periods of feeling sad and depressed. For this reason, it’s also known as manic depression.
Depression affects your body, mood, and thoughts. It also affects the way you eat and sleep, think about things, and feel about yourself. It’s not the same as being unhappy or in a "blue" mood. It’s not a sign of weakness or a condition that can be willed away. Treatment is often needed and is key to recovery.
Bipolar affects equal numbers of men and women. But, women tend to have more symptoms of depression than of mania. Bipolar often begins in the teens or early adulthood.
The cause of bipolar is not known. Experts agree many factors seem to play a role. This includes environmental, psychological, and genetic factors.
Bipolar tends to run in families. Researchers are still trying to find genes that may be linked to this disorder.
While each person may experience symptoms differently, the following are the most common symptoms:
Depressive symptoms may include:
Manic symptoms may include:
To diagnose bipolar, your doctor will ask about your symptoms. You may have both depressive and manic symptoms to a varying degree. The symptoms of bipolar may look like other mental health conditions.
Always see a health care provider for a diagnosis. A diagnosis is made after a careful psychiatric exam and medical history done by a mental health professional.
There is no cure for bipolar, but treatment works well for many people. Treatment may include one or a combination of the following:
In most cases, consistent, long-term, treatment is needed to stabilize the mood swings.
You can also take steps to help yourself. During periods of depression, consider the following:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.