Bi polar disorder is a brain disorder that causes sudden and unexplained changes in a person's mood, which in turn changes the individual's energy and ability to function. While virtually everyone experiences their own ups and downs every now and then, the symptoms of bi polar disorder are more severe, often damaging personal relationships and performance in school or work. Untreated, it can even lead a sufferer to suicide. Until recently, it was known as manic depression, manic-depressive disorder, and bi polar affective disorder, among other medical terms.
It is medically classified into four types, namely:
1. Bi polar I
2. Bi polar II
3. Cyclothymic Disorder
4. Bi polar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified
Mental health experts use this classification to identify the symptoms, which differ among individuals. When the type has been identified, doctors can prepare a treatment program that's most suitable for the individual.
The disorder affects both men and women of all ages. In America alone, about 5.7 million people 18 years and over (2.6% of the population) suffer from it. Most sufferers exhibit their first symptoms in their early twenties, although research states that the first signs actually can occur much earlier. Adolescents, and even children, can suffer from the disorder.
The first symptoms can happen during childhood, late in life, or anywhere in between. Behavioral patterns between children and adult sufferers can differ, making the diagnosis of the disorder very difficult. Often people may suffer from it for years before it is properly recognized and treated. Once diagnosed, this long-term illness must be carefully managed throughout the rest of the individual's life, much like diabetes or heart disease.
The disorder is a recurring problem. Left untreated, sufferers have a 15% risk of death by suicide - in the developed world, it is the third leading cause of death among people between 15 and 24 years of age, and is the 6th leading cause of disability (lost years of healthy life) for individuals aged 15 to 44. Many people are aware of their situation and attempt to “self-treat" it by turning to drugs and alcohol. This can lead to substance abuse and dependence, which only serves to aggravate the disorder's effects.
To date, the exact cause of bi polar disorder is not known. Many experts, however, believe that a number of factors are involved in causing the problem, which includes a certain genetic component. It has been found that it tends to run in families - meaning if a person has bi polar disorder, then his/her relatives are at a higher risk of suffering from it as well. It has also been found that a sufferer's identical is also much more susceptible to likewise suffering the disorder. In most cases, however, the disorder lies dormant within a sufferer's system until triggered by some sort of emotional stress.
The theory it that it's caused by multiple factors, both genetic and environmental, is supported by research. Sleep, for instance, has been connected to bi polar disorder - past research had shown that patients have more difficulty sleeping and suffer from more sleep-related problems than normal individuals.
Much research about is currently ongoing, some of which attempt to uncover the reason why many sufferers turn out to be creative geniuses.
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Tim Clark writes various health related articles, most of them on his website on bi polar disorder . His other articles can be found here, bipolar disorder articles