Bipolar Disorder I

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Bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by extreme changes in mood, energy level, and behavior. While everyone has the occasional mood swing, people with bipolar disorder experience mood at its extremes: mania on one end of the spectrum, and severe depression on the other.

Bipolar I Diagnosis

The classic presentation of bipolar disorder is known as Bipolar I. To be diagnosed with bipolar I, a person must have had at least one manic or mixed episode that lasted for at least 7 days (a mixed episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression). While people with bipolar I often also suffer episodes of severe depression, it is not required for a diagnosis.

Most people who develop bipolar disorder are in their teens of early twenties when they first begin experiencing symptoms, with at least half of all cases beginning before age 25. It is very rare for someone to develop bipolar I after the age of 50. Those with a family history of bipolar are at an increased risk for developing it themselves, although the vast majority will not.

Treatment

Bipolar Disorder is a chronic illness that tends to worsen without treatment. Mood-stabilizing medications, such as lithium and valproic acid, are usually the first choice for treatment of bipolar I. The most effective way to prevent relapse and reduce symptoms is a treatment plan consisting of both medication and psychotherapy.

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