Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic psychiatric illness that results in profound mood changes over weeks to months.

It is normal to have "ups and downs" but in people who suffer from bipolar disorder, the highs are very high - we talk about manic episode - and the lows are very low - we talk about depressive episode. This disorder is also called manic-depressive psychosis.

The duration of manic or depressive episodes varies from a few weeks to several months. Their frequency is also variable. When the person is neither in the manic phase nor in the depressive phase, it functions normally and feels generally well. These "normal" periods can last several years.

Each patient therefore has his own "cycle" that evolves throughout the illness, depending on the treatments, the environment and the psychological work started with a professional. Bipolar fast-cycling disorder occurs when patients have at least four cycles a year. When the emotions change very quickly (for example in the same day), in an anarchic way, we talk about cyclothymia. This condition, which is very common, is however increasingly considered as a pathology distinct from bipolar disorder, which should not benefit from the same treatments.

Bipolar disorder counts are difficult to estimate because they rely on the number of people diagnosed. However, it is estimated that between 1% and 2.5% of people are affected by this disease. Women are as affected as men. On average, bipolar disorder occurs between the ages of 15 and 25 years.

Current research supports the importance of the genetic and biological factors that cause this disorder. However, different sources of external stress seem to be able to favor the occurrence of an episode. The seasons would also affect mood disorders: mania is more common in summer and depression in winter.

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Read also :

> To see a psychiatrist: how to choose the right one
> Manic-depressive psychosis: what is it?
> 5 comics about health (including cyclothymia)

And also: Bipolar manual Martin Desseilles, Nader Perroud, Bernadette Grosjean. Editions Eyrolles

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