Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that affects the chemicals in the brain and causes changes in moods that are often not normal responses to outside events. More technically, bipolar disorder is a genetically transmitted medical illness that affects brain chemistry. It results in abnormal regulation of nerve cells that are responsible for emotional regulation. This abnormality in brain chemistry leads to difficulty in handling strong emotions and periodically causes intense episodes of mania or depression as well as a variety of other symptoms such as paranoia, anger, and anxiety.
Also known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide
About 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year, have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, some people have their first symptoms during childhood, and some develop them late in life. It is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. As with epilepsy, diabetes or heart disease, one must learn to learn to live with this potentially life-threatening disorder...One does not recover, rather it is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.
Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder-Julie A. Fast & John Preston Ph.D