Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that is characterized by periods of depression and abnormally elevated moods.If the elevated mood is severe or associated with psychosis, it is called mania; if it is less severe, it is called hypomania.During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable.Individuals often make impulsive decisions with little regard to the consequences.The need for sleep is usually reduced during manic phases.During periods of depression, there may be crying, a negative outlook on life, and poor eye contact with others.The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than 6% over 20 years, while self-harm occurs in 3040%.Other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and substance use disorder are commonly associated with bipolar disorder.
The causes are not clearly understood, but both environmental and genetic factors play a role.Many genes, each with small effects, contribute to the disorder.About 70-90% of the risk is attributed to genetics.Environmental risk factors include a history of childhood abuse and long-term stress.The condition is classified as bipolar I disorder if there has been at least one manic episode, with or without depressive episodes, and as bipolar II disorder if there has been at least one hypomanic episode (but no full manic episodes) and one major depressive episode.If the symptoms are due to drugs or medical problems, it is classified separately.Other conditions that may present similarly include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia and substance use disorder as well as a number of medical conditions.Medical testing is not required for a diagnosis, though blood tests or medical imaging can be done to rule out other problems.
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