Bipolar Disorder: Its Causes and Effects At least 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, more commonly known as manic-depression. This illness usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life. Although it may come into affect at any time, most individuals with the disorder experience their first mood episode in their 20 's. However, manic-depression quite often strike teenagers and has been diagnosed in children under 12. The risk of suicide among persons afflicted with bipolar illness is unrealistically high. As many as 1 in 5 people with this disorder have committed suicide. This rate is nearly 30 times greater than that of the general population. Research suggests that people who commit suicide, whether depressed or not, tend to be more impulsive in their behavior. Manic-depressives, due to their spontaneous nature, are more likely to commit suicide than depressives. Manic depression involves alternating episodes of serious mania and depression. An affected person 's mood can swing from excessive highs (mania) to deep hopelessness (depression), usually with periods of normal mood in between. Some individuals may display mixed symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time, while others may have fewer symptoms of mania (also referred to as hypomania). The type severity, and duration of mood episodes may vary. Some individuals may experience excessive mania, or excessive depression, and some may experience an equal amount of both. The mood episodes can last for a few days to as long as several months, especially when left untreated or not treated effectively. Usually a person with bipolar disorder can expect an average of ten episodes of either mania or depression in their lifetime, but some individuals experience much more frequent mood episodes. Some characteristics of mania include: increased energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapid talking; excessive euphoria; extreme
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