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What is bipolar affective disorder and what are the main characteristics?

Bipolar affective disorder is a serious mental disorder, which causes changes of mood and behavior that are very often extreme, ranging from very sad and depressed mood all the way to euphoria. The frequency of these changes varies, and it may occur a few times a year, or even a few times a day, although there are also cases in which, for example, both euphoria and depression are present at the same time. Since the periods of euphoria and highly elevated mood are also known as mania, this disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. There are several types of bipolar disorders, and they differ in severity of symptoms. Bipolar affective disorder affects equally both genders, although women tend to experience rapid-cycling bipolar disorder much more than men, and although bipolar II disorder is much more frequent in females. As for the age, there are no rules, although generally, the symptoms may begin to appear as soon as one turns 15. Mortality rates are rather significant, since there are a huge number of those who commit suicide, while the number of people who only attempt it is even higher. Regarding the causes of bipolar episodes, physical changes in the brain seem to play a very important role in triggering them, as well as imbalance in neurotransmitters in the brain. Besides this, hormonal imbalance, genetics, and environmental factors such as stress, or various traumatic experiences may also trigger bipolar episodes.

Is there a chance to cure bipolar affective disorder?

Even though it is not possible to completely cure this disorder, it is possible to learn to deal with it and to control the symptoms with the help of medications and psychotherapies. Even when the person in question begins to feel better and even when it seems that all the symptoms have disappeared, the person is not cured and it is necessary to stick to the treatment methods that the specialist suggested. Only the most severe cases require hospitalization, since they may harm themselves or people in their surroundings. Medications help in keeping the symptoms under control, and they are particularly helpful when it is necessary to balance the moods as soon as possible. Those that are most frequently prescribed are those from the group of anticonvulsants, antidepressants and antipsychotics. As for psychotherapy, besides the person in question, it might also include family members and/or friends.

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