Bipolar disorder is an illness that causes extreme mood swings that can change from depression to elation or mania. How severe and intense the mood swings are will vary.
Some people alternate quickly while others will be in a manic or depressive phase for long periods of time (even up to 1 year).
Bipolar disorder can run in families. Close relatives of people who suffer from this illness are 10 to 20 times more likely to develop a major depression or bipolar disorder than someone without the genetic connection.
Bipolar disorder occurs about equally in men and women. More than half of the cases begin before the age of 20.
Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Bipolar Disorder, mh-ahc-11452
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