Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. People who have it go through unusual mood changes. They go from very happy, "up," and active to very sad and hopeless, "down," and inactive, and then back again. They often have normal moods in between. The up feeling is called mania. The down feeling is depression.
The causes of bipolar disorder aren't always clear. It runs in families. Abnormal brain structure and function may also play a role.
Bipolar disorder often starts in a person's late teen or early adult years. But children and adults can have bipolar disorder too. The illness usually lasts a lifetime.
If you think you may have it, tell your health care provider. A medical checkup can rule out other illnesses that might cause your mood changes.
If not treated, bipolar disorder can lead to damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. However, there are effective treatments to control symptoms: medicine and talk therapy. A combination usually works best.
NIH: National Institute of Mental Health
- Heart Risks to Fetus from Bipolar Drug May Be Lower Than Thought (06/08/2017, HealthDay)
Treatments and Therapies
- Bipolar Treatment: Are Bipolar I and Bipolar II Treated Differently? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Brain Stimulation Therapies (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Mental Health Medications (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Psychotherapies (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Personal Calendar: Treatment and Physical Tracking (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
- Personal Wellness Tools (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) - PDF
- Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism: Are They Related? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Bipolar Medications and Weight Gain (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Mental Health Providers: Credentials, Services Offered and What to Expect (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Suicide Prevention (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
- Major Ups and Downs: Bipolar Disorder Brings Extreme Mood Swings (National Institutes of Health)
- Rapid Cycling and Its Treatment (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
- Types of Bipolar Disorder (National Institute of Mental Health)
- What Is Bipolar Disorder? A Guide to Hope and Recovery for African Americans (Mental Health America)
Health Check Tools
- Mental Health Screening Center (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Assessment of a Person-Level Risk Calculator to Predict New-Onset Bipolar...
- Article: Association of Electroconvulsive Therapy With Psychiatric Readmissions in US Hospitals.
- Article: Characterization of Risk-Taking in Adults With Bipolar Spectrum Disorders.
- Bipolar Disorder -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Services Locator (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Find Your Local NAMI (NAMI)
- Help for Mental Illnesses (National Institute of Mental Health)
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Psychologist Locator (American Psychological Association)
- Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens (National Institute of Mental Health) Also in Spanish
- Storm in My Brain: Kids and Mood Disorders (Bipolar Disorder and Depression) (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) - PDF