Also known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that involves episodes of mania and depression. Between episodes, most people who have the disorder are free of symptoms, but as many as one-third of people have some residual symptoms. Like diabetes or heart disease, this disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. The symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe -- much different than the normal ups and downs everyone goes through. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: Bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
More than 2 million American adults, or about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year, have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, some people experience their first symptoms during childhood, while others develop them late in life. Bipolar disorder is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.