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Symptoms and Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

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Here are easy to understand resources for you to answer the questions you may have about bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression). From the most basic information onward, each article is geared to increase your knowledge and understanding of a mental disorder estimated to affect 5% of the United States population.
  1. What is Bipolar Disorder?
  2. What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
  3. Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
  4. Forms of Bipolar Disorder
  1. Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder
  2. The Impact on Your Health
  3. Bipolar Disorder in Children

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Whether you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed, or you've met someone who has bipolar disorder, you are wondering if you or a loved one may have this illness, or you just need to learn more about bipolar disorder, this is the place to start.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Researchers probably will never pinpoint one specific cause for bipolar disorder, but they do know many factors that contribute. Here are some of them.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can take many forms, but the one thing that distinguishes it from almost all other illnesses is the presence of mania or hypomania in addition to depression.

Forms of Bipolar Disorder

In the United States, there are three "official" forms or classifications of bipolar disorder, and three more that have been officially proposed. In addition, some scientists recommend changing the classifications entirely, and the international system of classification is entirely different. Here are clear, easy-to-understand descriptions of the major types (U.S.), information about the proposed types, and a discussion of the classifications and why they are so complicated.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

Sometimes the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is long in coming. It may not be evident to either the doctors or the patient for weeks, months or years if the first symptom is depression. Since there are no medical tests yet to detect manic depression, a doctor or therapist must depend on his observations and what the patient (and sometimes the patient's family) reports.

The Impact on Your Health

It is not uncommon for those with bipolar disorder to have one or more additional disorders or conditions. Some conditions, such as schizoaffective disorder, can be mistaken for bipolar disorder, or vice versa. Others may complicate both the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and the patient's life.

Bipolar Disorder in Children

Children with bipolar disorder can display a dizzying array of symptoms, and more often then not, they also have Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD). This can make a diagnosis very difficult. However, research is constantly being done to help define and diagnose this illness in children.

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