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Bipolar Disorders

UW Health psychiatrists and psychologists address bipolar disorder, a mental illness which may swing from a deep depression to an intense mania.
 
What is Bipolar Disorder?
 
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness which affects one's mood. Your mood may swing from a deep depression to an intense high (mania), and then back again. You may even have a normal mood in between.
 
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
 
Bipolar disorder can run in families, and there appears to be a strong genetic link. The disorder often occurs between the ages of 15 and 25. It affects men and women equally. Traumatic events or even everyday things can cause symptoms to flare or last longer.
 
Signs and Symptoms
 
Manic phase: 
  • Feeling on top of the world (elevated mood)
  • Increased energy, restlessness (hyperactivity)
  • Racing thoughts and rapid speech
  • Risky behavior like drug and alcohol abuse, reckless driving or out of character sexual activity
  • Less need for sleep
  • Feelings of special powers (grandiose delusions)
  • Denial that anything is wrong
  • Sudden rage (extreme irritability)

Depressed phase: 

  • Sadness or despair
  • Low self-worth; feelings of being helpless, hopeless and worthless
  • No interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Loss of energy (fatigue)
  • Sleeping too much or not at all
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss or gain
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Constant thoughts of death or suicide
 
Treatment
 
There is no known cure for this illness. Bipolar disorder is a treatable mental illnesses.
 
Most forms of bipolar disorder are treated with: 
  • Medications
  • Psychotherapy
  • Support groups
  • Hospitalization
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)