Bipolar disorder, previously called manic depression, is a brain disorder that affects mood. It is much more serious than just having minor changes in mood from time to time. A person with bipolar disorder experiences extreme highs and lows.
Scientists don’t know for sure what causes bipolar disorder, but they think it may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. In bipolar disorder, mood shifts are severe and can happen throughout a person’s lifetime. These symptoms can affect a person’s ability to do his or her job well as well as have an effect on his or her relationships, school, work, and finances.
The average age of onset for bipolar disorder is 20. Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. First-degree biological relatives such as siblings and offspring of someone with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the illness than the general population.
The good news is that once properly diagnosed, bipolar disorder can be managed. With a combination of treatment that may include medication and psychotherapy, many people with bipolar disorder are able to participate in daily activities and live productive and meaningful lives.