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About Bipolar Disorder

Approximately 1% of adults will experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives.  Bipolar disorder causes extreme shifts in mood, energy and functioning.  Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition with recurring episodes of both mania and depression that often begin in adolescence or early adulthood.


Mania: Activated Phase of Bipolar Disorder

●     Either an elated, happy mood or an irritable, angry, unpleasant mood

●     Increased activity or energy

●     More thoughts and faster thinking than normal

●     Ambitious, often grandiose, plans

●     Increased sexual interest and activity

●     Decreased sleep and decreased need for sleep

Depression: Other Phase of Bipolar Disorder

●     Depressed or apathetic mood

●     Decreased activity and energy

●     Restlessness and irritability

●     Fewer thoughts than usual and slowed thinking

●     Less talking and slowed speech

●     Less interest, participation in, and enjoyment of normal activities

●     Decreased sexual interest and activity

●     Hopeless and helpless feelings

●     Feelings of guilt and worthlessness

●     Pessimistic outlook

●     Thoughts of suicide

●     Change in appetite, in sleep patterns


While the exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known, researchers believe it is the result of a chemical imbalance of the brain. Scientists have found evidence of a genetic predisposition to the illness. Sometimes serious life events such as a serious loss, chronic illness, or financial problem, may trigger an episode in some individuals with a predisposition to the disorder.


While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, it is a highly treatable and manageable illness. After an accurate diagnosis, many people may be successfully treated. Maintenance treatment with a mood stabilizer substantially reduces the number and severity of episodes for most people, although episodes of mania or depression may occur and require specific additional treatment. In addition, psychosocial therapies including cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, family therapy, and psychoeducation are important to help people understand the illness and cope with the stresses that can trigger episodes.

Find Out More

●     NAMI.org Resources

●     NAMI.org Living with Bipolar Disorder Community