Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a medical illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy and functioning. These changes may be subtle or dramatic and typically vary greatly over the course of a person’s life as well as among individuals.

Over 10 million people in America have bipolar disorder, and the illness affects men and women equally. Bipolar disorder is a chronic and generally life-long condition with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months that often begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and occasionally even in children.

Most people generally require some sort of lifelong treatment. While medication is one key element in successful treatment of bipolar disorder, psychotherapy, support and education about the illness are also essential components of the treatment process.

To read more on causes, symptoms, treatments and medicine, click here. To learn about programs, services and resources that can help, visit the NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania website.