Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. The main symptoms of are mood swings, ranging from extreme happiness (mania) to extreme sadness or depression which can last several weeks or more. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, symptoms are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and there is an increased risk suicide. The good news is that bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. Bipolar disorder affects around one in 100 people, and typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, affecting women and men equally. Often not recognized as an illness, it can cause years of suffering before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.
This book looks at: what is bipolar disorder - types (Bipolar 1, Bipolar 11) and symptoms; diagnosis including differential diagnoses eg other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, thyroid disorders, anorexia nervosa, cerebrovascular event, dementia; management - psychological therapy, including CBT; management - drug therapy; self-management - planning and preventing episodes; alternative therapies that help; and, other strategies eg exercise.
Neel Burton is a psychiatrist practising in Oxford with a specialist interest in neuroscience and philosophy. He is author of the Living with Schizophrenia, Sheldon Press, 2007, which won the Medical Journalists' Association Open Book Award 2008, and was commended in the 2008 British Medical Association Medical Book Competition.