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From high to low From exhilaration to despair From wildness to apathy These are the extremes associated with bipolar disorder which can be a serious and disabling mental illness The condition is also known as manic-depressive illness from manias on the one extreme to depression on the other Bipolar disorder affects a likely 1 percent to 5 percent of adults in the United States It often begins in adolescence or early adulthood and may continue for life Its causes are vague and there is no cure But it can be managed Left untreated the condition usually gets worse The flares of bipolar disorder may last for weeks or months causing great turmoil in the lives of the affected person friends and family Signs and Symptoms Bipolar disorder is characterized by an alternating pattern of emotional highs mania and lows depression The intensity of the signs and symptoms varies Bipolar disorder can range from a mild to a severe condition For many the manic signs and symptoms include Feelings of euphoria extreme optimism and inflated self-esteem Rapid speech racing thoughts agitation and increased physical activity Poor judgment and recklessness Difficulty sleeping Tendency to be easily distracted Extreme irritability In the depression phase signs and symptoms include Persistent feelings of sadness anxiety guilt or hopelessness Disturbances in sleep and appetite Fatigue and loss of interest in your daily activities Difficulty in concentrating Recurring thoughts of suicide Causes Doctors and researchers dont know just what causes bipolar disorder But a range of biologic genetic and environmental factors seem to be involved in causing and triggering episodes of the illness Evidence indicates that differences in the chemical messengers between nerve cells in the brain neurotransmitters occur in people who have bipolar disorder In many cases people with bipolar disorder may have a genetic disposition for the disorder The abnormality may be in genes
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