• Conditions InDepth: Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is a treatable condition that typically causes extreme swings in mood, thought, energy, and behavior. There can often be periods of normal mood between episodes. Bipolar disorder is a medical problem and is not caused by personal weakness or a character flaw.
    The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are different from the average ups and downs experienced by everybody in life. In severe cases, bipolar disorder can be associated with psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, or thought disorganization. These symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. When treated appropriately, people with this condition can lead full and productive lives.
    Bipolar disorder affects an estimated 2%-3% of American adults (18 years and older). The condition typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, some people have their first symptoms during childhood, and some develop symptoms late in life. Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed by a medical professional throughout a person's life.
    The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but it tends to run in families. Specific genes may play a role, but it is not caused by one single gene. Additional factors, including stressors at home, work, or school, are believed to be involved in its onset.
    People with bipolar disorder are at increased risk for suicide, substance abuse, and high-risk behaviors such as reckless driving and sexual promiscuity. Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, tend to occur at a higher rate in people with bipolar disorder.
    What are the risk factors for bipolar disorder?What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?What are the treatments for bipolar disorder?Are there screening tests for bipolar disorder?How can I reduce my risk of bipolar disorder?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with bipolar disorder?Where can I get more information about bipolar disorder?


    Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 15, 2013. Accessed September 4, 2013.

    Bipolar disorder in adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-adults/index.shtml. Updated 2012. Accessed September 4, 2013.

    DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association website. Available at: http://www.psychiatry.org/dsm5. Accessed September 4, 2013.

    Estevez RF, Suppes T. Maintenance treatment in bipolar I disorder. In: Yatham LN, Kusumakar V, ed. Bipolar Disorder: A Clinician’s Guide to Biological Treatments. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC; 2009:107-152.

    Injury, prevention & control: Data & statistics (WISQARS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html. Updated August 29, 2013. Accessed September 4, 2013.

    Merikangas KR, Akiskal HS, Angst J, et al. Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorder in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64(5):543-552.

    Price AL, Marzanni-Nissen GR. Bipolar disorders: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(5):483-493.

    Statistics. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml. Accessed September 4, 2013.

    Stern T, Rosenbaum J, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch S. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.