Bipolar Disorder Health Center

Over 5 million people in the United States suffer from bipolar disorder, about 1.6% of the population. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes patients to have extreme and abnormal mood swings, from manic highs to potentially dangerous low depression.

The mood changes are severe enough to cause disruption in the patient's day to day life, limiting his or her ability to work, maintain relationships, and sometimes can result in suicide. During a manic episode, patients will sleep little, set unrealistic goals, and 'feel invincible', often while engaging in risky sexual or financial behavior. A depressive episode can be a crushingly low and hopeless state of mind, with thoughts of suicide. It is the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide, and causes significant stress on families and relationships.

Treatment is necessary as it is a chronic condition, with the first line of treatment being mood stabilizing medications like lithium, antipsychotic medications, or anticonvulsant medications. Antidepressants and psychotherapy also play an effective and often necessary role in providing treatment.

Review Date: 
March 13, 2012
Last Updated:
July 3, 2013