Unlike major depression, which can occur at any age, manic-depressive illness generally strikes before the age of 35. Nearly one in 100 people will suffer from the disorder at some time in their lives.
People with bipolar illness differ from those with other depressive disorders in that their moods swing from depression to mania, generally with periods of normal mood between the two extremes. The length of this cycle, from towering elation to near despair, varies from person to person.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood. It does seem to run in families, which suggests that genetics are involved. Around 10–15 per cent of the nearest relatives of people with bipolar disorder also have a mood disorder.
It is also known that very stressful life events and physical illness can bring on (trigger) periods of the illness, so the causes are far from simple.
Research has found that there are changes to the brain’s chemistry during manic and depressive episodes. This includes changes to hormone levels and chemicals that transmit signals within the brain (neurotransmitters). Understanding how this works can help in finding ways to treat and manage the condition.
Other sources of information for these topics.
National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association
To educate patients, families, professionals, and the public concerning the nature of depressive and manic-depressive illness as treatable medical diseases; ...
Bipolar Disorder --- Manic-Depression
Up-to-date authoritative information about Bipolar (Manic-Depressive) disorder, its diagnosis and treatment.
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