Bipolar affective disorderDefinition:
Bipolar affective disorder is a mood disorder characterized by mood swings from mania (exaggerated feeling of well-being, stimulation, and grandiosity in which a person can lose touch with reality) to depression (overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, and low self-worth, which can include suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts).Alternative Names:
Bipolar disorder; Manic depressive illnessCauses, incidence, and risk factors:
The disorder usually appears around the age of 25 and affects men and women equally. Children are rarely affected. The cause is unknown, but genetics do seem to be involved. Relatives of people with bipolar affective disorder and depression are more likely to be affected.
There are different types of bipolar affective disorder. Bipolar I is the classic form of the condition, with discrete periods of mania alternating with depression. In a person with bipolar II, the depressive phase predominates and there is no true mania. There may be periods of elevated mood and energy in which the person doesn't completely lose touch with reality (hypomania).
People with bipolar II may appear to have depression rather than bipolar affective disorder (especially since few people complain about periods of good mood and energy that don't cause problems), but mood stabilizers seem to help more than antidepressants.