Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Conditions InDepth: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem. It can be treated. It causes swings in mood, thought, and actions. There can be times of normal mood in between.

The mood swings are not the same as the ups and downs people have in daily life. These problems can harm how you get along with others. It can also cause job or school problems. It may also cause someone to take their own life. People with this problem can lead full lives if they are treated.

This problem often starts in the late teen or early adult years. Others may have the first signs as children, and others have signs late in life. It is a problem that must be treated throughout a person's life.

The cause is not known. People with it tend to have others in their family who have it. Certain genes may play a role, but it is not caused by one gene. Other things, such as problems at home, work, or school, may start it.

People with this problem are at greater risk for taking their own life, substance abuse, and high-risk actions such as reckless driving and unsafe sex. Anxiety problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, also happen at a higher rate.

REFERENCES:

Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114738/Bipolar-disorder. Updated August 20, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Bipolar disorder in adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-tr-15-3679/index.shtml. Updated November 2015. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Estevez RF, Suppes T. Maintenance treatment in bipolar I disorder. In: Yatham LN, Kusumakar V, ed. Bipolar Disorder: A clinician’s guide to biological treatments. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC; 2009:107-152.

Injury, prevention & control: Data & statistics (WISQARS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html. Updated September 21, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Price AL, Marzanni-Nissen GR. Bipolar disorders: a review. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(5):483-493.

Management of bipolar disorder in adults. US Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: https://www.healthquality.va.gov/bipolar/bd_305_full.pdf. Published May 2010. Accessed September 26, 2018.

Statistics. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml. Updated January 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Stern T, Rosenbaum J, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch S. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated 9/25/2018