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Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that afflicts more than 1% of adults in the United States, up to as many as 4 million people. "Early intervention for bipolar disorder: current imperatives, future directions." Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria 33(suppl II) (2011): S197-S204. Some additional facts and statistics about bipolar disorder include the following: This disease was formally conceptualized by Emil Kraeplin more than 100 years ago, at which time he described it as manic-depressive insanity. About two-fifths of people with bipolar disorder have at least one period of rapid cycling over the course of their lifetime. "A Review of Evidence-Based Therapeutic Interventions for Bipolar Disorder." Journal of Mental Health Counseling 31.4 Oct. For every type and duration of the illness, the sufferer experiences significant problems with his or her functioning at school, at work, socially or otherwise in their community, may need hospitalization, or may have psychotic symptoms (for example, delusions or hallucinations). Symptoms and signs of manic episodes include elevated or expansive mood, rushed or pressured speech, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, poor judgment, increased goal-directed activity, impulsivity, grandiose thoughts (thinking one has superpowers or special abilities), and tangential speech (switching topics frequently).

Although a major depressive episode is not required for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, such episodes often alternate with manic episodes. "Excellent School Performance at Age 16 and Risk of Adult Bipolar Disorder: National Cohort Study." The British Journal of Psychiatry 196 (2010): 109-115. The diagnosis of bipolar I disorder requires that the individual has at least one manic episode but does not require a history of major depression. Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed if the person has experienced at least one episode of major depression and at least one episode of hypomania (a milder form of mania). "Comorbidity in Bipolar Disorder: The Complexity of Diagnosis and Treatment." Psychiatric Times 26.4 Mar. One frequently asked question about bipolar disorder is if it is hereditary. As with most other mental disorders, bipolar disorder is not directly passed from one generation to another genetically.

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