Bipolar Disorder (Mania)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Quick GuideBipolar Disorder Overview Pictures Slideshow

Bipolar Disorder Overview Pictures Slideshow

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression or bipolar I disorder, is a mental illness that is characterized by severe mood swings, at least one episode of mania and may include repeated episodes of depression. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that afflicts more than 1% of adults in the United States, up to as many as 4 million people. Some additional facts and statistics about bipolar disorder include the following:

  • Bipolar disorder is the fifth leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Bipolar disorder is the ninth leading cause of years lost to death or disability worldwide.
  • The number of individuals with bipolar disorder who commit suicide is 60 times higher than that of the general population.
  • People who have bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of also suffering from substance abuse such as alcoholism as well as other mental-health problems.
  • Males may develop bipolar disorder earlier in life compared to females.
  • Blacks are sometimes diagnosed more often with bipolar disorder compared to whites.

What is the history of bipolar disorder?

This disease was formally conceptualized by Emil Kraeplin more than 100 years ago, at which time he described it as manic-depressive insanity. However, mood problems that include depression alternating with symptoms that are now understood to be manic have been referenced in history as long ago as 200 A.D. At that time, this condition, like unipolar depression, was thought to be the result of bad blood, called black bile. In the 19th century, this illness was referred to by terms like biphasic illness, circular insanity, and dual-form insanity. Despite such unfortunate terminology for this disease, bipolar disorder is also known to be associated with significant achievement in some individuals. Many historical figures and currently successful people suffer from this disorder, whose creativity and accomplishments can therefore be an inspiration for current sufferers of the disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/8/2016

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