bipolar disorder

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Related to Bipolar affective disorder: borderline personality disorder

bipolar disorder,


manic-depressive disorder



severe mental disorder involving manic episodes that are usually accompanied by episodes of depressiondepression,
in psychiatry, a symptom of mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of loss, sadness, hopelessness, failure, and rejection. The two major types of mood disorder are unipolar disorder, also called major depression, and bipolar disorder, whose sufferers are
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. The term "manic-depression" was introduced by the German psychiatrist Emil KraepelinKraepelin, Emil
, 1856–1926, German psychiatrist, educated at Würzburg (M.D., 1878). He also studied under Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig, and was appointed professor of psychiatry at the Univ.
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 in 1896. The manic phase of the disorder is characterized by an abnormally elevated or irritable mood, grandiosity, sleeplessness, extravagance, and a tendency toward irrational judgment. During the depressed phase, the person tends to appear lethargic and withdrawn, shows a lack of concentration, and expresses feelings of worthlessness, self-blame, and guilt. This dual character of the disorder has given it the name bipolar disorder, in contrast to the unipolar depression symptomatic of the majority of mood disorders. The symptoms range in intensity and pattern and may not be recognized at first. Individuals suffering from bipolar disorder may have long periods in their lives without episodes of mania or depression, but manic-depressives have the highest suicide rate of any group with a psychological disorder.


Estimates suggest that about 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorders. Symptoms usually appear in adolescence or early adulthood and continue throughout life. The disorder occurs in males and females equally and is found more frequently in close relatives of people already known to have it.. It has had notable incidence among creative individuals, affecting such artists as Hector Berlioz, Gustav Mahler, Ernest Hemingway, and Virginia Woolf.


Therapy includes lithiumlithium
[Gr.,=stone], metallic chemical element; symbol Li; at. no. 3; interval in which at. wt. ranges 6.938–6.997; m.p. about 180.54°C;; b.p. about 1,342°C;; sp. gr. .534 at 20°C;; valence +1. Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal.
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 (to control mania and stabilize mood swings), anticonvulsant drugs such as valproate and carbamazepine, and antidepressantsantidepressant,
any of a wide range of drugs used to treat psychic depression. They are given to elevate mood, counter suicidal thoughts, and increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy.
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. Electroconvulsive therapyelectroconvulsive therapy
in psychiatry, treatment of mood disorders by means of electricity; the broader term "shock therapy" also includes the use of chemical agents. The therapeutic possibilities of these treatments were discovered in the 1930s by Manfred Sakel, a Polish
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 has been useful in cases where other treatments have had little success. Psychotherapy can provide support to the patient and the family.


See F. K. Goodwin and K. R. Jamison, Manic-Depressive Illness (1990); D. Healy, Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder (2011); publications of the National Institute of Mental Health.

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bipolar disorder

[bī′pō·lər dis′ȯrd·ər]
A major affective disorder in which there are episodes of both mania and depression. Also known as manic-depressive illness.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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