Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is a treatable medical condition that affects people of all genders, races, ages, and income levels. Roughly 5.7 million Americans suffer from the condition. Bipolar disorder runs in families: more than two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder have at least one close relative with the condition or with major depression.Manic symptoms include:
Increased energy and decreased need for sleep.
Excessive irritability, euphoria, or aggressive behavior.
Increased talkativeness or rapid speech.
Disconnected and racing thoughts.
Impulsive behavior and poor judgment such as spending sprees, erratic driving, or sexual indiscretions.
Increased goal-directed activities.
People with bipolar disorder need to be treated with medication (mood stabilizer), a different class of medication than antidepressants. Antidepressants alone can make their condition worse.
Fifty percent of people with bipolar disorder lack insight or do not realize they are ill. For example, they may believe they are a "high energy person." Often they only go to a doctor complaining of their depression, so the doctor does not realize they also have periods of mania. Therefore, it is essential that family members and friends report manic symptoms to the doctor, so that they can make an accurate diagnosis.
Unfortunately, bipolar disorder is vastly underdiagnosed and treated. On average, it takes 8 years before bipolar disorder is diagnosed. During that time a person suffers needlessly and is at risk for suicide.