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About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a disease that involves mood changes and disorders. Bipolar disorder has been called manic depression, and that term is still used by some people. It is a psychiatric disability that causes major disruptions in lifestyle and health.

Most people start showing signs of Bipolar Disorder in their late teens (the average age of onset is 21 years). These signs may be dismissed as "growing pains" or normal teenage behavior. On occasion, some people have their first symptoms during childhood, but the condition can often be misdiagnosed at this age and improperly labeled as a behavioral problem. Bipolar Disorder may not be properly diagnosed until the sufferer is 25-40 years old, at which time the pattern of symptoms may become clearer.

  • Severe depression can be life-threatening. It may be associated with thoughts of suicide, actual acts of suicide, and, in some cases, even acts of homicide.

  • Extreme mania can lead to aggressive behavior, potentially dangerous risk-taking behaviors, and homicidal acts.

  • A number of people with Bipolar Disorder have been known to turn to drugs and alcohol in order to "self-treat" their emotional disorder, resulting in substance abuse and dependence.

  • Bipolar Disorder occurs in both men and women. About 5.7 million people in the United States have the disorder. There is no racial group that is more afflicted by this disease. Bipolar Disorder knows no bounds. It affects all races and all ages. It does not care who you are, what you do or where you live.

Because of the extreme and risky behavior that occasionally occurs with Bipolar Disorder, it is very important that the disorder be properly identified. With proper and early diagnosis, Bipolar Disorder can be treated. Bipolar Disorder is a long-term illness that will require proper management for the duration of a person's life.

© Copyright 2008. National Bipolar Foundation