What is bipolar disorder?


Bipolar disorders are one of the diseases that have been called mood disorders. Mood disorders affect the way a person’s brain works.

Mood disorders are very common. In the United States alone, it has been estimated that more than 17.4 million adults suffer from a mood disorder each year. This equates to 1 person in 7, so there is a high chance that you or someone you know will have to deal with a mood disorder.

How does bipolar disorder affect a person?

Bipolar disorder affects both men and women. In many people, the first symptoms appear in their early twenties. However, research has shown that the first episode of bipolar disorder occurs earlier – it often appears in adolescence, and even children can experience it.

Recent research indicates that children and adolescents with bipolar disorder do not always display the same behavior patterns as adults with bipolar disorder. For example, children with bipolar disorder may experience especially rapid mood swings and other mood-related symptoms detailed below, such as irritability or high anxiety. But they may not show other symptoms that are common in adults.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The person with bipolar disorder will go through bouts of mania (highs) and at other times they will experience bouts of depression (lows). These are not the normal periods of happiness and sadness that everyone experiences from time to time. Rather, the episodes are intense or marked changes in mood, like a pendulum swinging endlessly from one extreme to the other.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Los médicos y científicos no saben exactamente qué provoca el trastorno bipolar, pero piensan que puede estar relacionado con factores bioquímicos, genéticos y ambientales. Se cree que esta enfermedad está causada por desequilibrios de ciertas sustancias químicas del cerebro denominadas neurotransmisores. Si hay un desequilibrio de los neurotransmisores, el sistema de regulación del estado de ánimo del cerebro no funciona como debería.

Los genes también intervienen. Si una persona tiene un pariente cercano con trastorno bipolar, el riesgo de que desarrolle la enfermedad es mayor. Sin embargo, esto no significa que si tienes un familiar con trastorno bipolar automáticamente tengas que desarrollar la enfermedad. Se ha visto incluso en estudios realizados con gemelos idénticos criados en el mismo hogar que a veces un gemelo puede tener el trastorno y otro no. Los investigadores están trabajando ahora para identificar el gen o genes implicados en el trastorno bipolar.

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated, but a diagnosis is required by a psychiatrist or psychologist first. Unfortunately, many people with this disorder are never diagnosed or are not properly diagnosed. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, the disorder could get worse. Some teens with undiagnosed bipolar disorder may end up in a psychiatric hospital or residential therapy facility, in the juvenile justice system, using drugs, or committing suicide.


“My mood swings were the worst imaginable. My parents thought I hated them, but in reality I was sick and didn’t even realize it. Now I take my medication for my disorder and lead a fairly normal life. My family and friends tell me about it. They are supportive and, together with my therapist, they have helped me so that I am now at the point where I am. I would like other adolescents to know that although bipolar disorder is sometimes difficult, things will improve. “


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