Bipolar Disorder

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What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is characterized by unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy levels, and behavior. These shifts are marked by periods of mania (where a person experiences a markedly elevated, euphoric, and expansive mood that is often interrupted by occasional outbursts of intense irritability or violence) and depression (where a person experiences dramatic periods of irritability, persistent sadness, and hopelessness). Sometimes these moods occur together, in what is called a “mixed-state.” In between these mood changes, people with bipolar disorder experience periods of “normal” moods, where they are neither manic or depressed.

The onset of bipolar disorder is typically around age 18 and approximately 0.6% of individuals in the United States struggle with bipolar in a given year. Heredity plays a significant role in the development of bipolar disorder. The siblings and parents of youth with bipolar disorder are between 3 and 10 times more likely to have bipolar themselves than are family members of youth with other disorders. This connection appears to be even stronger for early onset bipolar disorder. Particular cognitive styles are also related to bipolar disorder. For example, perfectionism and ruminating on both positive and negative experiences, are cognitive patterns common among individuals with bipolar. Childhood adversity, in the form of parental loss and maltreatment may also be related to the development of bipolar disorder.


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