Bipolar Disorder (Mania) FAQs
Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
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Q:What is another term that has been previously used for bipolar disorder?
A:Manic depression. Bipolar disorder, previously called manic depression, is a mental illness that is characterized by severe mood swings, repeated episodes of depression, and at least one episode of mania.
Q:What type of disorder is bipolar disorder?
A:Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder.
Q:Medically speaking, mania is defined as what?
A:Medically speaking, mania is defined as an abnormally elevated mood state.
Q:Bipolar disorder is hereditary. True or False?
Q:Bipolar disorder includes manic episodes followed by what?
A:Depressive episodes. Manic episodes frequently alternate with depressive episodes. In fact, depression occurs more often than mania in many people with bipolar disorder. Sometimes they feel very happy and "up," and are much more active than usual. This is called mania.
Q:At what age is bipolar disorder usually diagnosed?
A:Bipolar disorder usually appears between ages 15 and 24 and persists throughout a lifetime.
Q:Can bipolar disorder be diagnosed by a routine laboratory test such as a blood test?
A:No. As with most mood disorders, there is no laboratory test or X-ray to diagnose bipolar disorder. After performing a physical exam, doctors evaluate signs and symptoms. A doctor will also ask patients about their personal medical history and family history. Lab tests may be done to rule out other serious illnesses that can affect mood.
Q:What is the cure for bipolar disorder?
A:There is no cure for bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and there is no cure, but a wide variety of treatment options are available. Proper treatment helps most people with bipolar disorder gain better control of their mood swings and related symptoms. It is important to understand that people with the disorder need long-term treatment to keep control of bipolar symptoms. Treatment for bipolar disorder includes medication and psychotherapy.
Q:Treatment for bipolar disorder can include what?
A:Antiseizure medications (anticonvulsants). Treatment for bipolar disorder may include the use of mood stabilizers such as lithium. Anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines (drugs that act as tranquilizers) are other classes of drugs that can also be used to stabilize mood. Sometimes antidepressants are given in combination with mood stabilizers to boost the depressed mood. In addition, stimulants may be used to step up or boost the antidepressant drug action.
Q:Bipolar disorder can be fatal. True or False?
A:True. Bipolar disorder can cause behavior so extreme that some people cannot function at work, in family or social situations, or in relationships with others. It is the fifth leading cause of disability worldwide.
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