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Bipolar disorder.

CareNotes. Feb 1, 2008 pNA.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2008 A Thomson Healthcare Company


What is it? Bipolar disorder is also called manic depressive illness. It is

a long term mood disorder that causes mild to severe changes in mood
and behavior. A mood is an emotion or a feeling. Moods affect how we
act (our behavior). Your mood also affects how you feel about yourself,
and about life in general. People with bipolar disorder have mood
swings. High moods are called mania. Mania or feeling manic is acting
overly excited and active. Low moods are called depression.
Depression or feeling depressed is feeling deeply sad. With bipolar
disorder, sometimes you will feel manic and sometimes you will feel
depressed. You can have mania and depression at the same time. This
is called a mixed bipolar state. The periods of mania or depression or
both may last for months or years if they are left untreated.

What causes bipolar disorder?

* Chemical changes in your body.

* Drug or alcohol abuse.

* Someone in your family has had a mood disorder, especially a

bipolar disorder.

* Stress.

What are the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder? Symptoms

usually start suddenly. Others may notice changes before you notice or
feel them. Your eating or sleeping habits, weight, or energy level may
change. Your feelings about the future, sex, or being with others may
change. You may think about hurting yourself or others. Times when
you are manic or depressed may last for weeks or months. Family
members and friends may notice changes in you. During periods of
mania, you may:
* Feel happy and care free, then very suddenly you may get angry or

* Have racing thoughts which may not make sense or be understood

by others.

* See and hear things that are not really there

* Talk too fast or more than usual.

* Think about sex more than usual.

* Think very highly of yourself, to the point of believing that you have a
special connection with God or important people.

* These may cause you to:

* Abuse drugs or alcohol.

* Have a bad temper, get very angry, or fight.

* Spend more money than usual.

* Have sleep problems.

* During periods of depression, you may:

* Feel angry, worried, anxious, or irritable.

* Feel drained of energy.

* Feel very sad or empty.

* Have crying outbursts.

* Have low self-esteem (feel badly about yourself).

* Have negative thoughts or feel like you just do not care about

* Sleep a lot or not at all.

* These may cause you to:

* Eat too much or too little.

* Have a hard time making decisions.

* Have aches and pains for which there is no reason.

* Have trouble concentrating (focusing on a single task).

* Have no interest in social activities, work, or sex.

* Think about hurting or killing yourself (suicide) or others (homicide).

What is the treatment for bipolar disorder? There is no cure for

bipolar disorder, but medicines and other therapies may be used to
control your mood swings. To learn to control mood swings, you may
need to see your caregiver regularly for counseling. You may need to
go into the hospital for tests and treatment. If it is not treated, bipolar
disorder usually gets worse.

Living with your bipolar disorder: Accepting that you have bipolar
disorder is hard. You and those close to you may feel angry, sad, or
frightened. These are normal feelings. Talk to your caregivers, your
family, or your friends about your feelings. Contact the following for
more information about bipolar disorder:

* National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Public Information &

Communication Branch

6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663 Bethesda, MD


Phone: 1-301-443-4513

Phone: 1-866-615-6464

Web Address: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/

* Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

730 N. Franklin Street, Suite 501 Chicago, IL 60610-7224

Phone: 1-800-826-3632

Web Address: http://www.dbsalliance.org

* National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Colonial Place Three, 2107 Wilson Blvd, Suite 300 Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: 1-703-524-7600

Phone: 1-800-950-6264

Web Address: http://www.nami.org


You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you
must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You
can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with
them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have
the right to refuse treatment.

Record Number: A175950275