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n Mental Health Matters - Essentials of Bipolar Disorder diagnosis for the general practitioner
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a common, severe, and persistent mental illness that affects about 1% of the population. For patients suffering with bipolar it usually implies a lifelong struggle and challenge. For this reason it is essential to make the correct diagnosis of the disorder as this leads to proper and effective treatment. Bipolar disorder used to be called 'manic-depressive illness' in old terms, but with the evolution and gaining new insight into the illness the disease was changed to 'Bipolar Disorder'. Essentially the term describes extreme mood swings which can range from severe, prolonged depression on the one pole to an excessively elevated or irritable mood (mania) on the other. Most people experience both highs and lows to various degrees and various patterns over time with usually normal periods of mood in between. Other variations include a 'mixed' picture where both highs and lows are experienced at the same time.
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