Bipolar Disorder

3337 Words Apr 17th, 2005 14 Pages
Abstract
Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness in which a person's mood alternates between extreme mania and depression. Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive illness. In a related disorder called cyclothymic disorder (sometimes called Bipolar III), a person's mood alternates between mild depression and mild mania. Some people with cyclothymic disorder later develop full-blown bipolar disorder. Rates of bipolar disorder are similar throughout the world. At least fifteen percent of people with bipolar disorder commit suicide. Bipolar disorder is much less common than depression. Many people with bipolar disorder function normally between episodes. Medications known as "mood stabilizers" are usually prescribed by
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Sometimes mania is prominent, sometimes depression (A).

Bipolar I can have some very frightening characteristics of psychosis (loss of contact with reality). These may include: hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not there), delusions (persistent beliefs in things that are not true), and paranoia (believing that a person or group is actively working to harm you, without any basis in fact). These psychotic features are also characteristic of schizophrenia, a mental illness where the patient is out of touch with reality, but without mood swings. Bridging the space between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia is schizoaffective disorder. What distinguishes schizoaffective disorder from Bipolar I with psychotic features is that sometimes (for at least two weeks) the patient has only psychotic symptoms, without mania or depression (A).

In another type of bipolar disorder (Bipolar II), a person experiences major depression and hypomanic episodes, or episodes of milder mania. In a related disorder called cyclothymic disorder (sometimes called Bipolar III), a person's mood alternates between mild depression and mild mania. Some people with cyclothymic disorder later develop full-blown bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder may also follow a seasonal pattern (Seasonal Affective Disorder), with a person typically experiencing depression in the fall and winter and mania in the

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