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Bipolar disorder, or manic depression as it used to be known, is a brain disorder characterised by unusual shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. The exact cause of bipolar is still unknown, and is likely vary between individuals. Genetic, physiological, and environmental factors are all believed to contribute to the development of the condition.

The main symptoms of bipolar disorder are episodes of intense highs followed by periods of sadness and depression. A bipolar sufferer will experience dramatic swings in both mood and energy levels. Periods of normality may occur between the two extremes. More details on the symptoms of the disorder.

There is no medical test for bipolar disorder. The condition will be diagnosed following an assessment by a mental health specialist. Children will normally be assessed by specialist child psychiatrist. More details on the test for bipolar.

Treatment for bipolar tends to be a combination of mediation, counselling, and management. One of the key aspects of treatment is identifying the factors that cause a manic episode to occur, and recognising when an episode is imminent. More details on the typical treatment for the disorder.

The three main types of medication used to treat bipolar are lithium carbonate, anti-convulsant medicines and anti-psychotic medicines. These all help prevent or reduce the episodes of mania, hypomania and depression. Children over the age of twelve should only be prescribed lithium carbonate. Children under the age of twelve, aren't suitable for any of the aforementioned medication. More information on bipolar medication.

Depression is different from bipolar disorder in that it does not involve the mania episodes that characterise bipolar. Depression can form a part of bipolar but usually they are treated as two different conditions. More details on depression and bipolar.

Although bipolar mainly affects adults, the disorder can also develop in children of all ages. Bringing up a child with manic depression can be exceptionally difficult but with the right knowledge and support, you can help your son or daughter come through it. More details on children with the disorder.

People with bipolar
Manic depression can strike in people from all walks of life, even the rich and famous. Hundreds of celebrities have admitted suffering from bipolar including the comedian Russell Brand and the actor Richard Dreyfuss. More famous people with the disorder.

Support groups
Manic depression is a difficult to cope with on your own. Fortunately, there are a number of support groups throughout the UK that can help you understand and manage the disorder. A good place to start is MDF The Bipolar Organisation which is a national charity dedicated to supporting individuals with bipolar. More details on finding support for bipolar.

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